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Comment Re:Pretty ridiculous (Score 5, Interesting) 235

Not at all. Rather, an officer has a much easier time justifying a lawful detainment than a private citizen does and is on much more solid legal ground if he or she has to use force in the furtherance of a legal goal. Officers also typically have more training and experiencing both in preventing the need for such force and using it appropriately when necessary. (There are, of course, examples to the contrary.)

If an officer truly just unlawfully detains you, then the question becomes whether or not that unlawful detainment violated a clearly established constitutional right. If so, qualified immunity generally doesn't apply and someone is getting out their checkbook. In fact, as an agent of the state, an officer is at greater peril if they violate your rights as they can be both civilly and criminally liable at both the state and federal level and they can also receive departmental discipline. What that means is that a single action can result in repercussions for the officer in five different venues.

Again, I am not a lawyer and I am skipping over a lot of important details that aren't really relevant to a hypothetical like this.

Comment Re:Pretty ridiculous (Score 5, Informative) 235

Valid point, but there are key legal and practical differences. I am not a lawyer and I may not be read up on all the recent cases, but I am a police officer and I have looked into this area a bit a while back.

For example, police officers acting in their official capacity (regardless of who pays) are generally entitled to qualified immunity. While private guards may qualify for qualified immunity in some circumstances, the law there is much less clear and their use in actual roles requiring action (rather than just observing and reporting) can be a major source of liability.

That is, Facebook would generally be liable for actions taken by private security working directly for them. They set the policy the security guard follows and are liable for the consequences of that policy. Police officers, on the other hand, work for the city (or county or state or federal) and their actions are generally governed by policy and law, which may act as a buffer between Facebook's deep pockets and potential lawsuits.

Additionally, even in states where a citizen's arrest is perfectly legal, there are logistical concerns. In the states I am familiar with, resisting an officer who is effecting a legal arrest is illegal and in some states even resisting an illegal arrest is illegal unless certain other elements (i.e. risk of physical harm) are involved. When a citizen is attempting to effect the arrest, it is much easier for the person being arrested to simply claim they were being assaulted and fought back and there is no simple way to determine who is right.

Having a trained, experienced, uniformed police officer effecting the arrest undercuts this argument because it isn't (generally) reasonable for an individual to claim they were being randomly assaulted by an on-duty officer.

Comment Re:Art doesn't need remuneration (Score 1) 684

I don't have mod points right now, but I would mod this up if I did.

The argument that artists shouldn't have to worry about getting paid but rather just worry about making art isn't sustainable. I think most of us have hobbies or interests that we would prefer to spend our time doing more than whatever we actually do to pay the bills, but those things clearly aren't sufficiently economically productive or we would be doing them full-time.

The argument the artist is making is essentially, "I don't want to do something people value enough for me to survive, so you should pay me for something you don't value enough because I say it is worth it." If we don't value labor based on the economic value of its output, how do we value it? Currency is simply a more convenient way to trade labor for products. It has no inherent value unless core products (like food) are produced in order to obtain it. That is, currency is how we motivate individuals to work in ways the economy finds productive in addition to ways they find personally satisfying. Without valuing labor's output economically, no one would do unpleasant jobs (barring the few that find those jobs pleasant) and there would be no society to look at the art anyway.

Many of us would rather spend time doing a thing we love than a thing society economically values, but that isn't how the world works. The counterargument is that it would be okay if only a few people got the privilege and the rest of us worked to support them, but that opens an entire other set of questions as to who is in that select group, what efforts are appropriate for qualification, etc. The answer, of course, is that the efforts most worthy for inclusion are the efforts that people will pay for anyway so the creation of the special group isn't necessary at all.

Comment Re:Good alternative: Citavi (Score 2) 87

I switched from Zotero to Bibtex for my academic work a few months ago. I used Zotero for years and was generally happy with it, but I have really started to enjoy working in latex and bibtex is the obvious choice for that. There is just something really nice about having a plain text document. It can be easily versioned, edited on pretty much any device (including vim from a chromebook I travel with), and being able to manually edit the library file has shown me several errors Zotero made importing sources that I failed to notice before.

Gummi, an F/OSS latex editor, has nice latex/bibtex integration so you can insert references by searching/clicking rather than having to know their identifier.

Google scholar has a nice "import to bibtex" function so adding a source to your library is as simple as copy/paste. I do wish I could find (or make time to write) a simple chrome extension that appends a .bib file automatically to the selected library, but otherwise I couldn't he happier with it.

Comment Re:The problem with ram (Score 2) 184

In addition to the system-level stuff, Android's SDK also provides a callback that apps should implement for exactly that reason.

The system calls it when it needs to reclaim some memory and apps are supposed to discard whatever they can in order to return memory to the system.

Comment Re:How much access and monitoring? (Score 5, Insightful) 105

According to Iowa Code 804.20, the police "shall" monitor any phone calls made. The exact text is:

Such person shall be permitted to make a reasonable number of telephone calls as may be required to secure an attorney. If a call is made, it shall be made in the presence of the person having custody of the one arrested or restrained. (Source:

I can't speak to legislative intent, but I wouldn't be surprised if harassment of victims or witness tampering were at least part of that conversation. If your attorney comes down to the police station, then you can chat as privately as your attorney wants. In practice, the police monitor and log all calls made such that they can later prove that they gave the suspect a reasonable opportunity to contact someone. (Failure to do so can have pretty severe legal ramifications including excluding evidence.)

Comment This is anti-productive. (Score 5, Insightful) 246

Prior to the recent rash of slashvertisements, I held a very positive opinion of both and Slashdot. With each new thinly veiled attempt to drive traffic to Dice, I lose a little bit of respect for each.

If Dice wants to put ads on slashdot, just put ads on slashdot. Stop running fake stories that just diminish a site that has spent a long time earning a loyal following.

Submission + - Mediacom Cable Hijacking 404s and More ( 1

digitalvengeance writes: Over the last two days, I've noticed that Mediacom Cable is hijacking HTTP requests to Google with certain parameters or HTTP responses from other sites with status code 404. I did some light analysis and discovered that they are impersonating the intended recipient of the HTTP request and sending back a Javascript block sending you to their search portal. I am not usually a fan of government-enforced net neutrality, but behavior like this makes me wonder if it isn't necessary after all.

Comment Re:What the hell? (Score 1) 653

And also given the fact that a vast majority of them are punctuated with discretionary conditions in them, such as "what an average person would believe" or "Probable Cause" or "Credible Suspicion", etc., who is to say definitively? Afterall, the officer has sole discretion in interpretation of these conditions.

On the scene, yes. But officers have to make instant decisions with limited information then the courts get as much time as they want and as much information as they want to determine whether the officer was right or not. If an officer believes they have probable cause and uses that as the basis for a search and later a court disagrees, any evidence found in that search is inadmissible in any criminal proceeding. (Subject to certain exceptions and case law that is too detailed to go into here)

Comment Re:What the hell? (Score 1) 653

The alleged drunk driver refused a breathalyzer test at the time, which some people consider an admission of guilt. Now, I don't know if he was drunk or not, but consider this: can a police officer who lies on his police report be trusted to accurately report the breathalyzer result? (Keep in mind there's no evidence, just a number he writes down.)

There actually is evidence in many cases. The "Datamaster" breath machine used by many states prints two receipts, one for our records and one to give to the defendant that shows the results of the machine's test of its internal standard as well as the results of two separate tests of the submitted breath. Additionally, the machine logs all of the information internally and my state's crime lab can connect to the machines and download the data. (Useful in the event of a lost or torn receipt) We also video-tape the entire administrative breath testing procedure for evidence and videotape as much of the standardized field sobriety tests as is safe and practical. I imagine the same is true with competing breath machines used in some other states, though I only have direct experience with the Datamaster cdm.

In my state, the machines are actually owned by the state crime lab and they are responsible for all of their maintenance / testing, so a department couldn't rig one to print fake receipts if they wanted to.

Comment Re:Technically it shouldn't... (Score 1) 353

The other issue here is that drivers slam on their breaks to avoid a ticket, which leads to more rear-end collisions. Larger vehicles often can't stop in time to make the short yellows, but smaller cars in front of them can. The small car driver slams on his or her breaks and gets rear-ended by the larger vehicle behind them. In this scenario, collisions are possible and even imminent despite both drivers behaving within the confines of the law.

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