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Comment Re:weird (Score 1) 286

Falun Gong has some significant similarities with the 19th Century movement that produced the Taiping Rebellion. That rebellion went on for 14 years and left as many as 30,000,000 dead, making it one of the most destructive wars in human history. Hence the Chinese are more nervous than we are about odd religious movements.

Comment Re:Price (Score 3, Informative) 565

"...we afford people the presumption of innocence until they are proven guilty in a court of law..."

That's a pretty widely misunderstood principle though. It defines an epistemic stance that the judge and jury are supposed to adopt. They are supposed to disregard, or screen off, any beliefs they had regarding the guilt or innocence of the accused prior to the trial and consider only the evidence given in the trial. Obviously this doesn't apply to the prosecution, witnesses, or complainant though because they are all expected to act according to their sincerely held beliefs either way.

As for the media and public at large, the legal principle of presumption of innocence just doesn't apply. You could argue that there should also be a general social norm requiring that people unconnected with the case presume innocence, but it's hard to see why that should be the case.

Comment Re:Silly editor (Score 1) 193 is not viewed as a "legal interpretation"...

I'm not sure what "it" is supposed to refer to here, but the post you were replying to was most definitely about legal interpretation. Legal interpretation is what judges do when they try to figure out how the law applies to the facts of the case at hand (i.e. what they do before they arrive at a finding of law).

YANAL, but I am.

I find that pretty hard to believe. Anyone who has studied any kind of law, in an English speaking country, would be familiar with the concept of legal interpretation.

Secondly, *everything* is covered by the law in the US. That is the foundational principle of the country.

I laughed pretty hard when I read that. So I'm 99% sure you are just trolling at this point, but just in case: The US constitution is structured around an enumeration of limited powers, and is followed up with a bill of rights that further constrains those powers. The underlying principle is that of limited government - which is the idea that there are many domains of civil life that the government should not be involved in.

Your argument would stand on firmer ground if you knew the correct terms of art.

No my argument would still be just as good even if I got some of the technical jargon wrong. However, your claim to be a lawyer would be on firmer ground if you were more familiar with some of these terms. The phrases 'ex post facto law', 'retroactive law', and 'retrospective law' all mean exactly the same thing and are all in widespread use in legal literature, which is something you would know if you had ever taken a law class.

Comment Re:Silly editor (Score 1) 193

That couldn't happen. Murder is killing with intent, manslaughter is killing without intent, so there isn't anything in between.

But in the abstract, yes bad stuff can happen that isn't covered by the law. And there is nothing that a system governed by laws can do about such cases, except to make a new law, and get it right next time. That might seem unfair, but it beats the hell out of living in a system where no one really knows what will get them thrown in jail until after the door clangs shut behind them.

Comment Re:Silly editor (Score 1) 193

Every possible circumstance is legal or illegal.

Only if you take legal and illegal to be logical opposites, but if you take 'legal' to mean explicitly allowed by law, and 'illegal' to mean explicitly forbidden, then there will be a wide and entertaining middle containing actions that are neither approved nor forbidden. People are creative and they shouldn't have restrict themselves to the list of officially approved actions or be subjected to an arbitrary and capricious legal system where the rules get made up after the fact.

Um, yeah, ASAP, if it comes before a court and a verdict hangs in the balance. If not immediately, then when? After waiting for someone to pass an ex post facto law?

No. If a case comes before the court, and the law doesn't cover the facts of the case, then the correct response is "case dismissed". If the law doesn't cover the facts then then there no way to deliver a judgement based in law. And if the judge decides to make up new rules for this case then he is *necessarily* making up rules after the fact (ex post facto) and applying those rules retrospectively.

Conversely if the public and the legislature don't like the outcome they can make a new law which will apply to future case like this one. That way you get two good things: (1) democratic government and (2) not retroactive laws.

And someone has to make up something...

No they really don't. Sometimes, even when clearly bad stuff happens, the correct response is that there is no good way to fix the problem through the legal system.

Comment Re:Silly editor (Score 1) 193

It's pretty sad that normal relatively non-crazy people have come to accept this view of legal interpretation, when it is so severely fucked up.

First, it's fucked up because it incorporates a totalitarian assumption is that every possible circumstance should be governed by law, and that whenever someting happens that isn't covered by law it must have been some sort of oversight that should immediately be rectified.

Second, it's fucked up because it implies an unthinking acceptance of retrospective law. When judges make up new rules and apply them to the case at hand they are *always* applying those rules retrospectively.

Under this sort of view it doesn't matter what you do, even if the law makes no mention of it now, when you get hauled off to court suitable rules will be made up to cover whatever it was you did.

Comment Re:So, do we get immunity? (Score 1) 849

No, it's just like paying taxes on income from criminal activity. If you pay the taxes you can't be busted for tax evasion, but you can still be busted for the crimes that provided the income. Of course the fact that you paid those taxes also can't be used as evidence against you, because that would violate the 5th Amendment.

Likewise, under this new law, the fact of registration could not be used as evidence against you, but it wouldn't prevent prosecution for any crimes you commit.

Comment Re:That seems a bit Unconstitutional..... (Score 1) 849

All sorts of groups and organisations that engage in politics, within the bounds of the lawful democratic process, are required to provide all manner of information about their goals, membership, and financial resources. So it's a no-brainer that you can require similar information from people who participate in politics outside of those lawful bounds. As long as the registration process is easy enough, and doesn't cost too much, it will pass constitutional muster.

Comment Re:Notes? (Score 1) 569

The single most effective way to fix knowledge in your memory is to express it to someone else. The very best way to do this is to teach it to someone else, but writing it down in your own words is also pretty good, and much easier to do when you are sitting in class. So the point of writing notes is to fix knowledge in your memory, and the point of reading your own notes later is to reinforce the memories formed when when you wrote those notes. Notes prepared by someone else are almost entirely useless for this purpose; you might as well read the textbook.

Where many students go wrong is that they write notes like minutes for a meeting. They aim for a complete record of everything that was said and done. What they should do is listen, think about what is said, identify the key ideas that the teacher is trying to convey, and write those ideas down in their own words. Asking questions is also good, but you will probably ask better questions if you get the note taking part right because, as you try to express the ideas in your own words, the points that you don't understand will become obvious.

Comment Re:Birth Control (Score 3, Insightful) 477

It's also a lot easier to sell people on birth control if the long term survival prospects of their children are better.

Suppose each pair of parents wants at least a 95% chance that one of their children will survive to adulthood. If the mortality rate for children is 5% then many parents will settle for one child. On average there may be as few as 0.95 children surviving to adulthood per family, in which case the total population will decline rapidly. If the mortality rate is 50% then most parents will plan to have around 5 children (the probability of all five dying being 0.5^5 = 3%). On average half of all children will still survive to adulthood, so around 2.5 children will survive for each family and the population will grow steadily.

Obviously I've simplified a bit, but it is quite clear that the reduction of infant and child mortality rates is crucial to long term population control.

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