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Comment Re:We have the technology to eliminate speeding (Score 3, Informative) 984

Nobody here is arguing that speed limit enforcement can be done fairly and uniformly. In the UK they use cameras that read license plates between several points, if the average speed exceeds the limit, you get a ticket.

The problem is that the US system was never designed for 100% enforcement rate. This is why everyone does 90 in a 55 during rush hour. The cop that patrols that stretch can only pull over 1 guy every 30 minutes; hundreds of cars meanwhile speed through just fine. So on any given day your odds of getting pulled over are less than 1%, really I’d say about .025% at best.
I cannot speak for every state, but in most, the cops/courts will happily give you a no points ticket that will not go on your record and will not affect your insurance. They just want to collect the fine. This creates the mentality of “Pay to play” and “Speeding Tax”.
I ride a motorcycle, you can be certain that I am not doing the limit. I have never had points go on my license despite numerous encounters with police.
Fact of the matter is that there are plenty of US roads that can be safely traveled at 100-120mph. Our speed limits are stupidly low and the keep right pass left law is completely unenforced resulting in a chaotic traffic pattern that does not allow for a well regulated traffic flow.
Unfortunately with many police departments having no source of revenue beyond traffic violations and insurance companies gorging themselves silly on hiked up premiums due to speeding violations, the much needed change will never come. (Yes plenty of police departments do have other concerns, but I can think of 3 local townships of the top of my head where speeding enforcement is 100% all they do all day long.)

Comment Re:Not true. (Score 1, Troll) 984

I've taken to tossing gravel at them as they race by while waiting to put my kindergartener on her school bus. People live on these streets and their lives are just as important as the one you have living in your mcmansion on a cul-de-sac.

Perhaps they ought to leave a little earlier for work in the morning

You're an idiot. Way to go - promote "saftey" by throwing stones at cars. Fuck you.

I hope the next car you throw gravel at is an undercover cop and they throw the book at you resulting in a felony conviction which you absolutley deserve.

Comment Re:Magical Black Boxes (Score 2) 233

Yes. I completely agree.

This would eliminate so many common and extremely dangerous misconceptions.

Just a few weeks ago I had an argument with a coworker who insisted that his massive SUV with all season tires could stop better in the snow than my sedan with studded snow tires because he had 4WD on his SUV. The fact that 4WD does not help you stop was not obvious to him nor did he believe me when I tried to explain this to him. He ultimately blames his ABS system for "trying to kill him" because "It didn't even try to stop! The wheels just kept spinning!" (Yes. That's because you have 3 season tires and were on ice and thus had no grip. Spinning tires at least let you maintain steering. No ABS would have caused a spin.)

Comment Re:You Disgust Me (Score 1) 382

Yes, a prosecutor can allow easy convictions to walk - but just like a cop who gives warnings instead of tickets, they will have a very short career.

Prosecutors are often gauged by the number of convictions that they have attained in their career and their conviction rate. This means that prosecutors are highly motivated to take easy to prove convictions to pump up their number and conviction rate while offering significantly reduced charges in a plea bargain to any case where a conviction would be hard to attain (e.g. Dropping statutory rape (felony) to corruption of a minor (misdemeanor).)

Finally, the high focus on conviction rates and the high cost of jury trials means that if the prosecutor wants to convict you for 4 specific charges, they will charge you with the 4 they know they can find you guilty on in court – then another 12+ charges that are unlikely to stick but possibly related to attain an astronomical penalty. The other effect is that if the case would ever go to court, the defense would have to address each charge significantly raising the cost. The prosecutor does NOT want the case to go to court – the jury is often very unpredictable and unreasonable their expectations of what constitute sufficient proof.

Once the prosecutor feels that they have a sufficiently terrifying case – even if only 10% of the charges are legitimate – they offer a plea deal for the charges they really want to convict on. If a plea deal is rejected, the prosecutor may either offer a better deal or a bigger list of charges. In the US, over 90% of criminal cases are settled via a plea deal - feel free to verify this claim.

Comment Re:You Disgust Me (Score 1) 382

I mean that in a case where the charges may be considered as significant and there is ample evidence - it would be a career killer for them as they are elected officials. So letting someone who could have easily been convicted walk would potentially be used to portray them as "soft on crime".

Nobody elects a prosecutor because he or she is "compassionate".

Comment Re:You Disgust Me (Score 1) 382

"Wrong"? What is wrong?
You're going to find lots of people who committed awful crimes and are convinced that they did the "right" thing - and many who would agree with them.

Here is the thing:
I agree that making JSTOR available for free publicly is the right thing to do.
I think it's wrong to do so by pumping down all their articles and uploading them elsewhere for free.
I think it's really wrong to do so by repeatedly gaining unauthorized access.
I think it's inexcusably wrong to enter a network closet and plug in an unauthorized device.

We can argue that "The end justifies the means." but I promise you that that's not a winning position.

In the end, JSTOR is a non-profit organization. If Aaron Swartz wanted JSTOR articles to be freely available, he should have worked to find means to fund the means by which JSTOR could do that. That would be the "right" thing to do.

Comment Re:You Disgust Me (Score 1) 382

Really? Fuck that noise. Intent matters. This was not a man trying to crash vital infrastructure. This was a guy who wanted to release a bunch of public domain articles into the public domain.

And to do that - he had to break several laws.That's what he's charged with.

He is not being charged with releasing the public domain articles.
He is being charged due to the means by which he accessed them.

You have to understand that the only way "intent" is considered in a legal case is in a NEGATIVE connotation - as in "Did he intend to gain access to JSTOR?"
What he intended to do with them AFTER is not relevant.

Comment Re:You Disgust Me (Score 1) 382

I agree with you to a large extent- but you are rasing too many issues. The "deals" are abhorrent and do create a scenario where it often is cheaper to plead guilty to a charge of which you are not guilty than to fight the case in court. Even if you win and are found innocent, you are very likely to end up in worse shape than had you taken the deal.

It really sucks if you are innocent - but since Aaron is NOT innocent I am not so sure that it matters all that much. He is guilty and would probably have been offered a reasonable deal.

The nobility of his actions does not make them any less criminal. The US legal system does not care about such philosophical concepts as the "nobility" of an action. You and I may agree that making the contents of JSTOR public is a good and noble goal. Some others may not. He is not being charged with distributing JSTOR articles. He is being charged with illegally gaining access to them - of this he is guilty.

The government does not punish people for doing things that are "wrong". It punishes people for things that are illegal. The US doesn't really have a "Justice" system it has a "Legal" system.

I agree that the US has far harsher sentences than are acceptable for ALL crimes. This is largely driven by our corporate owned prison system which funnels millions into harsher sentences which result in more profits. It's perverse - but well beyond the scope of this particular case.

The core of my argument has always been the following three points:
1. The charges against Aaron Swartz are legitimate.
2. Aaron Swartz did knowingly and intentionally commit a felony.
3. The prosecutor had every right and cause to proceed with the charges.

Comment Re:You Disgust Me (Score 1) 382

What really bothers me about this whole case is how incredibly stupid his actions were. I have previously worked for a company that actually did something very similar to what Aaron Swartz tried to do - as in download tons of information from a site that was not too keen on having it downloaded. (Actually a long time ago there was an article about that company on Slashdot - and how evil they are for doing what they do.)

The key was lots of computers that appeared spread out as much as possible each slowly downloading.

He had access to JSTOR at Harvard and at MIT. If he had say 20 laptop slowly grabbing articles over the course of a year he would never have been caught - and even if he had, not all the current charges against him would have been applicable.

All he'd have to do was grabbing slowly and from lots of places. Nobody would have given a rat’s ass until JSTOR entire DB magically appeared as a download.

I hate to say it, but his actions were that of a complete and utter script kiddie who did not understand when to stop, when he had gone too far.

Comment Re:You Disgust Me (Score 1) 382

Well, the reason I am focused on the charges and their validity is because that is the only factor that the prosecutor considers when deciding to pursue the charges.

MIT and JSTOR have no say in the matter. Both MIT and JSTOR could have been shouting their wish that Aaron Swartz not be prosecuted from the rooftops and it would not have mattered one bit.

The victim of a crime has no say in whether the perpetrator is prosecuted. The victim cannot even refuse to testify unless they want to be held in contempt of court.

From the perspective of the prosecution what does matter is the validity of the charges, the quantity and quality of evidence and the severity of the crime. The wishes of the victim only really play a role in the case of petty crimes or minor family issues. (E.g. Son steals father’s car.)

So this is why I have been so focused on the charges and their validity. If the charges are sound, the evidence is good and plentiful - and the crime is severe - the prosecutor cannot really drop the charges.

Now you and I can argue all day regarding if the crime should be considered severe enough to be prosecuted. I have made my opinion on the matter clear: Once Aaron Swart physically plugged in a laptop in a secured network closet - he was past walking away free.

The fact that the prosecution rejected a particular plea bargain is irrelevant as we do not know the details of the plea deal.

You have to understand that the legal system in the US is not built on emotion or the noble goals of the perpetrator. The courts do not care about such things. They care about one thing and one thing only : “Is the accused guilty as charged?” That is why I focus on the validity of the charges – because Aaron Swartz was guilty as charged.

Comment Re:You Disgust Me (Score 1) 382

No - and I'd be really REALLY surprised if he didn't end up with a plea deal for less than 4 years and end up getting out on probation in 2 or less.

To take such a plea deal, if it were offered, would require he plead guilty to a felony. That he admit he was wrong, and express remorse. So, even once he gets out, his life's over -- he has surrendered his principles by pleading guilty and lost all societal opportunity through the felony conviction.

Were he to not take such a deal, the prosecutor would go through with the other side of the deal -- decades in one of the nastier federal prisons, to make an example out of those who won't play ball. He'd likely never get out of that, certainly not physically or psychologically intact.

So I see why suicide looked like a rational decision. It was less of a surrender than the first option, and a less horrible death than the second.

Well - he DID commit a felony. So yes - he would have to plead guilty to it.
That is the reality of the situation. It's an unfortunate situation but the only way out without a felony conviction would be to NOT break into a network closet and plug in a laptop after getting kicked off wifi over and over.

How would you have wanted this to end? All charges dropped? Why? He's as guilty as can be - caught on camera and caught red handed. It would be unfathomable for the DA to simply let him walk despite all the evidence against him. Once again - I'm not saying "30 years" I'm saying less than 4 and probation - and yes a felony conviction.

It sucks - but when you break into a network closet, attach an unauthorized laptop and start pumping down data that you have no right to - a felony is what you are going to get. Anything less would be uncivilized.

His goals may have been noble but his actions were criminal. I really just don't know what else to say or why so many people just don't get it.

Comment Re:You Disgust Me (Score 1) 382

The blog does not explain what "ire" he could have expected from the district court judge. Plenty of less noble cases have received and outpouring of financial support to fund legal defense. The clown that is Geohot comes to mind.

Stop quoting that blog. It's emotional one sided drivel that is largely responsible for the perception that the charges are overblown and illegitimate without ANY logical explanation for why that is the case.

Comment Re:You Disgust Me (Score 1) 382

I did read that blog and it's complete and utter bullshit that tries to whitewash the issue and claim that the case cannot be criminal because he wasn't trying to make money.

His intent is NOT relevant.

If I break into your house with merely the intent to read some of the books you have - I'm still guilty of breaking and entering and criminal trespass and deserve jail time.

So it's NOT relevant that Aaron was downloading academic journals with no intent to sell them. What is relevant is that he gained unauthorized access to a system despite numerous efforts by the administrators to keep him out.

The final term of his sentence can be determined by plea bargaining and if that is not successful the court. His sentence is NOT for circumventing the paywall leeching bandwidth.

Since you seemed eager to suggest that I read about the case - I suggest you do the same - just from a less biased source:

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