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Comment Re:"Police found Purinton 80 miles away at Applebe (Score 1) 1105

1) The Founding Fathers, almost all of whom were British subjects, saw firsthand what happens when only the government has firearms. They can use those weapons to quell public outcry over anything, claiming the people were "rioting" or were "a threat to peace and order" because the people can't effectively fight back. If you read The Federalist Papers, Hamilton, Madison and Jay all say the same basic thing: citizens who have weapons are more fully able to defend themselves from the government.

That may sound odd to Europeans

It also sounds odd to the current U.S. Supreme Court, which affirmed in D.C. vs Heller the right to bear arms for self-defense. A later court finding (People v. Aguilar) summarized the majority opinion:

In District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), the Supreme Court undertook its first-ever "in-depth examination" of the second amendment's meaning Id. at 635. After a lengthy historical discussion, the Court ultimately concluded that the second amendment "guarantee[s] the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation" (id. at 592); that "central to" this right is "the inherent right of self-defense" (id. at 628); that "the home" is "where the need for defense of self, family, and property is most acute" (id. at 628); and that, "above all other interests," the second amendment elevates "the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home" (id. at 635). Based on this understanding, the Court held that a District of Columbia law banning handgun possession in the home violated the second amendment. Id. at 635.

So at this point they've basically decided it's a self-defense thing. The idea that the Second Amendment is to facilitate armed insurrection to overthrow a tyrannical government (a.k.a. the so-called "Second Amendment solution") has no current legal basis. The dissenting opinion went with the "well-regulated militia" idea:

The Second Amendment was adopted to protect the right of the people of each of the several States to maintain a well-regulated militia. It was a response to concerns raised during the ratification of the Constitution that the power of Congress to disarm the state militias and create a national standing army posed an intolerable threat to the sovereignty of the several States. Neither the text of the Amendment nor the arguments advanced by its proponents evidenced the slightest interest in limiting any legislature's authority to regulate private civilian uses of firearms. Specifically, there is no indication that the Framers of the Amendment intended to enshrine the common-law right of self-defense in the Constitution.

Here are the first six drafts of the Second Amendment and the final version:

  • The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.
  • A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; but no person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms.
  • A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.
  • A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed, but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.
  • A well regulated militia, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
  • A well regulated militia being the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
  • A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

If they had C-SPAN back then, we would have more insight into what motivated these careful rephrasings, comma deletions, etc. At least some are known to have been introduced by Senate scribes inadvertently modifying punctuation, and introducing subtle changes in meaning. (Thank God somebody removed that "religiously scrupulous" crap.) But the Second Amendment is just badly written. we're forced to read through the Federalist Papers and other contemporary writings to figure out what these guys were thinking when they wrote it.

Two things you need to keep in mind when you read all this stuff. First of all, these were being defined as restrictions on the federal government, and only the federal government. The courts affirmed this model during the first half of the 19th century. Northern and Southern states had very different appetites for democracy in general, for obvious reasons, so the Constitution followed an "If you like your authoritarianism, you can keep it" model. The federal government was not allowed to restrict speech in any way, but if your state wanted to violate those same individual liberties, go right ahead. In most Southern states, speaking ill of slavery was a hanging offense.

Second, we have to seriously reexamine this attitude we have toward the Constitution. The older it gets, the more revered it becomes, and at this point, most Americans think of it as an appendix to the Bible. People are seriously arguing that the Bill of Rights are ordained by God. Back when it was written, things were more casual. Everyone agreed their founding document sucked, then simply crumpled it up and wrote another one. No one was in a mood to do this a third time, so the Constitution has a nice section describing how to modify it. (And nowhere does it say "and if things don't work out, start shootin'.") There seems no reason to think that they intended the document to be unalterable by future generations centuries afterward- that would be absurd. But modifying the Constitution at this point is politically impossible and will remain so. We have worshipped the document so much that we no longer control it- which is exactly what its authors tried to prevent.

Comment Re:Sterile and shattered. (Score 5, Interesting) 273

One thing you're forgetting is that these stars have very low gravity, so when they throw flares they get a lot further out into space than they do on the sun. Typically the incident radiation will be low for the reasons you described, but when a planet orbits through a flare it gets zapped really hard. Meanwhile, orbiting the sun, we are so unaffected by flares that when we saw one, we thought it was the Russians jamming our radar.

People who get excited about aliens living on planets orbiting dwarf stars are kidding themselves. These stars are a dime a dozen and make up more than 90% of all stars, their light is more strongly affected by planetary transits, and they tend not to gobble up their innermost planets when forming. It's no wonder we find exoplanets around them all the time. But there is nobody interesting living on any of them. You can really only trust type F and G stars with life. Larger stars explode so fast their planets haven't even had time to solidify, and smaller stars have to be hugged so closely that the planet is affected by the star's fickle weather patterns.

Comment Re:What brand of hammer? (Score 2) 149

Programming languages do not matter. Any program can be written in any language. Programming languages are as interchangeable as hammers.

That's taking the concept of a Turing completeness a little too far. Malbolge is Turing complete and can theoretically do anything that Java can do. This is "Hello World" in Malbolge:


That string of code was not written by hand- it was generated by a beam search algorithm.

Comment Re:Our coal is pathetic. Everybody laughs at it. (Score 1) 364

The GP is clearly sarcastic. I don't get the trigger-happy mods and the virtue-signaling replies.

I was the GP. I thought complaining about not being able to dump mercury into rivers would clearly signal that I was being sarcastic. (BTW last week Trump really did block an Obama rule keeping mercury out of rivers.)

I'm impressed the post got modded to hell as if I were being serious. (What could have happened to put everyone is in such a grouchy mood lately?)

Comment Our coal is pathetic. Everybody laughs at it. (Score 0, Troll) 364

So the American coal industry is so wrecked by Obama it's now as profitable as if they were treehuggers. Folks, this is what's happened to coal in this country because of obscene government regulations and now that coal companies can't dump mercury in rivers it's becoming really hard for people owning coal mines to even survive. The world is laughing at us. China is laughing at us. But it stops right now, folks.

Comment Re:You just now started worrying? (Score 1) 460

Voter ID, just like every other civilized country in the World,

No ID is required in Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, or the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland). In Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland, ID is required only in cases when one's identity is in doubt for some reason. Canada accepts multiple non-photo IDs. Countries that include Photo ID include Spain, France, Malta, Belgium, Mexico, but those are much easier to obtain than in the U.S.

Incidentally, most other civilized countries also lack reinforced concrete walls all along their borders.

National Elections need to be a Federal holiday with few exceptions.

The people who favor voter ID don't like this idea at all. Their goal is to make voting a hindrance.

Comment Re:You just now started worrying? (Score 1) 460

Only a koolaid drinking disingenuous douche-shill thought that the government was magically trustworthy with Obama but all of the sudden is magically not to be trusted anymore because there's a new president.

The new president is already going around saying he lost the popular vote because 3-5 million "illegals" voted in the election. You elected a liar; "magic" has nothing to do with it.

Comment President-Asterisk Trump (Score 1) 203

Unless that tweet turns into a punitive regulatory action, then you've just lost a chunk of your savings.

This is a good point. We've gotten used to the Prince Jeoffrey phase of this drama, but winter is coming. The King Jeoffrey phase will be much different.

In less than 24 hours he goes from being President-Elect Trump to President* Trump, and those tweets might come with executive orders attached. (Twitter is gonna support that, they don't know it yet, but they'll do it soon, believe me.)


Comment Re:What a coincidence. (Score 4, Informative) 67

What? You think the Chinese fucking CARE?

This is from a 2013 Time article (emphasis added):

In a 2007 survey, the IFAW [International Fund for Animal Welfare] discovered that 70% of Chinese polled did not know that ivory came from dead elephants. This led to the organization's first ad campaign- a simple poster explaining the actual origins of ivory. A campaign evaluation earlier this year found that the ad, promoted by the world's largest outdoor advertising company JC Decaux, had been seen by 75% by China's urban population, and heavily impacted their view on ivory. Among people classified as "high risk"- that is, those likeliest to buy ivory- the proportion who would actually do so after seeing the ad was almost slashed by half.

Comment Re:Exactly who does this surprise? (Score 1) 143

I'm always hearing about cars hitting deers. In my neck of the woods it's cars hitting squirrels.

Maybe in your neck of the woods. I-70 in Pennsylvania has those Jersey barriers running all up and down the road, with no gaps or dips or anything.

One night at 4 AM I was driving down I-70 and right after a blind curve my headlights fell across a herd of deer in the middle of the freeway, all trying to figure out how to get past this stupid concrete barrier that's too high for deer to jump over. So of course I find myself slamming on the brakes and swerving the car through a wild stampede at about 50 mph. The car slammed into one of them. It rolled up the left side of the windshield and landed on the asphalt behind the car, like a soon-to-be-converted atheist in a Christian movie.

I pulled over, and was trying to figure out WTF to do, with an injured deer lying in the middle of I-70 struggling to move around. A minute later a beat up Ford F-150 came down the road, swerved around this deer, skidded around, and managed to come to a stop on the shoulder.

A scary-looking old dude jumped out of the car and ran over to me and this deer. He said its leg was broken and it was going to die anyway. Then he said he had a tire iron in the truck.

He fetched it and came back. As he approached, it was still wriggling around on the road and glaring at this old haggard dude, like Hank Schraeder in his last Breaking Bad episode. Then he bashed it in the head with the tire iron. It struggled to drag itself away and he bashed its skull again. Then it stopped moving.

We both managed to drag the deer off the road just as a cop pulled over. We explained what happened, and he decided, "OK, I don't see anything I really have to write up here."

All three of us ended up hauling the deer into the back of the guy's pickup. He must have been eating that thing for weeks.

But I digress. Most roads don't have dividers and animals can make it across if they can avoid the cars. But roads that are set up like the Berlin Wall are a problem. Animals like deer are going to evolve into two species separated by I-70.

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"It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." -- Artemus Ward aka Charles Farrar Brown