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Comment Re:What about the NBA? (Score 1) 450

The crusades were a defensive response to the armed conquest of over half the ancient world by a group that converted by the sword and who attacked Europe as recently (before modern times) as the 15th century.

They were? I didn't realize that e.g. Prussian pagan Slavs and Balts were trying to convert European Christians by the sword.

Comment Re:Asinine. (Score 1) 436

With this particular law it is, actually. The problem is that the class of weapons banned by SAFE Act, and other similar "assault weapon" bans, is fuzzily defined, but more importantly, that definition doesn't have any rational explanation. An Australian-style full semi auto ban is at least justifiable on the basis of increased lethality, and there is an objective difference between semi-autos and manual action. Banning "military style" rifles with features that are mostly or wholly cosmetic does nothing useful whatsoever.

To remind, the firearm used in the single deadliest mass shooting spree to date - the one perpetrated by Breivik - was done by a firearm (Ruger Mini-14) that is not considered an assault weapon under any existing or past AWB laws, nor under any AWB proposals on either federal or state level, that I'm aware off. That alone should tell you all you need to know about those laws.

Why it's a slippery slope? Well, if you can enact a ban without a rational justification for the list of banned features, then that list of banned features can be extended arbitrarily in random directions at a whim.

Worse yet that these laws are usually written by people who have no clue about guns, and so they e.g. ban "barrel shrouds", and define them in such a way that practically every forend on any shotgun or rifle manufactured to date would be considered one (and so make it banned). That's not a hypothetical - it actually happened with an AWB bill that was proposed in Washington State this year:

"A shroud attached to the barrel, or that partially or completely encircles the barrel, allowing the bearer to hold the firearm with the nontrigger hand without being burned, but excluding a slide that encloses the barrel"

This definition practically implies that it's illegal to shoot a firearm while gripping it anywhere around or under the barrel. Makes you wonder if the person that wrote this have ever shot a rifle or a shotgun, or at least seen one being shot.

Comment Re:Asinine. (Score 1) 436

They may not have tried yet, but when both Obama and Clinton reference Australia as a model to look at for ideas, it's not a far-fetched conclusion to make. A large-scale confiscation of guns (practically every semi-automatic rifle or shotgun) is precisely what Australia is famous for in the gun control department.

If they were to cite, say, Czech Republic instead - which does have shall-issue concealed carry, doesn't have assault weapon ban, but doesn't have shooting sprees, so arguably it's a better model if you want to solve this problem in a politically viable manner - that would have been a different story.

Comment Re:Asinine. (Score 1) 436

This is 100% legal...you just cannot resell it.

You can sell it, although you'd need to put a serial number on it if you want to do so.

What you can't do is manufacture it with intent to sell.

Pretty similar to that whole straw purchase thing. If you buy a gun for yourself, and then later decide to gift it to someone else, that's legal. But if you intended to give it away when you were buying it, that is illegal.

Comment Re:This simply means we're succeeding. (Score 1) 229

It's often also cheaper. It costs me less to take a train to Stansted airport, then an Easyjet plane from Stansted to Edinburgh and a bus to the city centre than it does to take a train from Cambridge to Edinburgh. Even including faffing at the airport time, the plane is a bit quicker. I'll take the train given the choice, because it's more comfortable and I can get some work done on the way, but it's a close-run thing.

Comment Re:Exposing those who store plaintext passwords (Score 1) 126

Make sure that you let them know that, because you have gone through responsible disclosure, if they are compromised then you will happily testify in court that they were aware of the insecurity of the personal information and that this makes them liable for increased damages for any compromise resulting in a failure to address the issue in a number of jurisdictions.

Comment Re:Do away with them (Score 1) 87

Not sure what you actually mean when you say that SQL NULL means unknown but not absent? Is there a meaningful distinction you are making here?

It makes a difference when you start applying operations.

For example, if you compare a NULL to any value (even another NULL), the result is also NULL, rather than TRUE or FALSE. This doesn't make sense for absent values - two absent values should compare equal (and, indeed, two nulls in JS do). On the other hand, it makes perfect sense if NULL means unknown - if my last name is unknown, and your lastname is unknown, comparing them for equality can only produce "unknown" as a result, since it's not known whether they're the same or different.

Same thing with arithmetic operations. 1 + NULL equals NULL in SQL, again, because NULL is really "unknown", and so when you add an unknown value to 1, the result is also unknown. If NULL were an absent value, the expression should either produce an error, or give 1.

The most telling part, though, is the SQL truth table for Boolean operators that includes NULLs. Specifically:


Again, this makes perfect sense if and only if NULL means unknown. AND is always false if one of the operands is guaranteed to be false, so FALSE AND NULL is always false, regardless of what the actual unknown value is. On the other hand, FALSE AND NULL is NULL, because the result could be either false or true depending on the unknown value. With OR, it's the reverse - TRUE OR NULL is TRUE, because OR is always true if one of the operands is definitely true, regardless of what the other operand is. FALSE OR NULL is NULL because the result depends on the unknown value.

Philosophically, the difference also exists. Absent value means "I know what the value is, and there isn't one". For example, for a guy from Iceland, you know his last name - he doesn't have one. Unknown value means "I don't know what the value is, and there could be one". For example, you don't know if I'm from Iceland or not, so I may or may not have a last name, and you don't know which one if I do. These are two distinct states, and ought to be reflected as such in the database.

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