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Comment The key is intrusion into the body (Score 1) 643

IAAL. Although the Supreme Court doesn't mention this, every case is explained by asking whether there is an intrusion into the body. The original case was Rochin v. California, 342 U.S. 165 (1952). The police had a warrant and broke into Rochin's apartment. He quickly swallowed illegal drugs, and the police used a stomach pump to retrieve them. Although it was not a case involving a warrant, the Supreme Court held that stomach pumping "shocks the conscience," and the drug evidence should be suppressed. The court later upheld fingerprinting without a warrant, but last month, in Missouri v. McNeely, it struck down a warrantless blood test for blood alcohol. The test involved piercing the skin and a vein. The court said that this violation of bodily integrity required a warrant. Note that it was not an emergency. The police could have gotten a warrant and run the test before the defendant's blood alcohol level declined too far to be meaningful. Then just yesterday, in Maryland v. King, the court upheld a non-emergency warrantless swab inside the defendant's cheek where a DNA test revealed that the defendant had committed another crime. There was no piercing of the defendant's skin, and the cheek swab was painless.

Comment I'd Pay to Delete Most Channels (Score 1) 614

Of my 1000 channel choices, I have, 24/7, 10 devoted to Dog the Bounty Hunter, 20 to new-age religion, 20 to old-age religion, 20 to new-age vampires, 20 to clairvoyant detectives, 200 to shopping and infomercials, 50 to soft- and medium-core porn (when I can get the hard stuff free on the net), 20 to fishing competitions, 20 to trash food (cooked on top of your car engine while you drive), 99 to trash sports, 300 to foreign language programming in languages I don't speak, 2 to high-school girls' volleyball, 5 to News for Voles (no, wait, that's Monty Python) et cetera ad infinitum. I would in fact pay extra to DELETE these channels, leaving the 100 or so choices I might actually watch.

Comment Re:Curious. (Score 4, Interesting) 252

The most annoying JSTOR policy is that their site is available only to institutions or scholars associated with institutions. They will not sell a subscription to an ordinary individual. Most libraries have subscriptions, but they don't permit remote access. The only exception I know of is the New York Society Library, which costs $200 per year.

Comment $235? (Score 1) 242

Whose ass did they pull the $235 figure out of? The software is free, the installation takes a few minutes and it's transparent thereafter. The big but (pun intended) is how to deal with a major crash or a forgotten password. If your backup is also encrypted, you're SOL. I'd keep an unencrypted backup on a hard drive in an eSATA external dock, back up daily and put the drive in a safe every night. This was the standard procedure years ago when the backup medium was tape. You had three tape cassettes and rotated them.

Comment Unbreakable Password (Score 1) 408

On the Gibson Haystack checker, "My hovercraft is full of eels" will take 2.89 hundred million trillion trillion centuries even for a Massive Cracking Array. In the unlikely case that the complete Python scripts are part of the initial check, I'll probably change it to "My hovercraft is full of Slashdotters"

Comment Google Health (Score 1) 196

Alas, 99.9999999999999999999999999% of health advice on the internet is quackery. I quickly learned to skip the rest and go to the Mayo Clinic for real rather than imaginary information. Not to mention that it's free.

Comment Treason (Score 1) 885


U.S. Constitution, Article 3, Section 3, says: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort."

The constitutional definition of treason was deliberately made very narrow, to prevent prosecutions for anything less than significantly aiding actual attacks by a foreign power. So:

-- With no declaration of war on either side, does planning and aiding terrorist acts constitute "levying War"?

-- Given the informal, non-national structure of al Qaeda, can it be designated an "Enemy"?

These are not trivial questions, but I think it's possible to answer both of them "Yes."

A traitor must be an American citizen -- otherwise he's just a foreign enemy.

The final question is, once we determine that Anwar al-Awlaki is a traitor, may we put out the equivalent of a "Wanted, Dead or Alive" poster?

I think that if we could try to capture a traitor, we can also attack and kill him, just as we could a foreign enemy.

Comment Black Boxes Already Exist (Score 1) 619

IAAL. Most current car models already have a black box that keeps a rolling record of accident analysis information -- acceleration, braking, steering -- that holds the most recent 30 seconds or so of events. Lawyers who handle car crash litigation now automatically ask for the box. Even though the information belongs to the car owner, that information is "put in dispute" when the owner asserts lack of fault and so can be obtained by the opponent. This is revolutionizing accident litigation. I suspect that there are already illegal services that change the black box records to show lack of fault.

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