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Everything posted by padren

  1. Out of curiosity, does anyone know how many people were displaced in general as a result of the end of the British Mandate for Palestine? It strikes me that when you look at the original amount of land that was cut up, that to focus on only the Palestinians who were displaced as a result of the creation of Israel isn't exactly painting a very complete picture. Correct me if I am wrong, but weren't there tons of settlements that found themselves on the wrong side of newly drawn lines? Jordan didn't officially exist as a nation until the end of the British Mandate. Both Iraq and Saudi Arabia also have borders within the former British Mandate - did all that go down without anyone being displaced? Honestly, I do want to know more because I am quite curious and I am not well versed in those details. I could be wrong, but I can't help but to suspect there was a massive disgruntled game of musical chairs at the time, and to focus on only on where the some of the Israeli's "ended up sitting" is unfairly myopic.
  2. Well, having a simple majority as the litmus test basically means Filibusters would cease to exist, and while that would end paralysis it would not be very likely that "what got moving" was any good, or even preferable to paralysis in most cases. Right now we've had so much horrible gridlock over a good amount of time we'd welcome any movement as better than nothing - but how often has that not been the case? How many elections have been down to the wire on which party will control either house by one or two seats? The full expectation is that the majority party will railroad the minority party because they have absolutely no reason to even talk to them. If the minority party can, we fully expect them to resort to filibusters and whatever other monkey wrenching schemes they can come up with. Whether it's pay based or something else, could something like this work so that ( A ) a majority would actually have an incentive to work with and not antagonize the minority ( B ) minority parties could still force influence (via filibustering) but at a personal cost that makes it a "last resort" instead of the first tactic?
  3. Yeah, not only is it almost certainly legit, there is a certain point where it's impossible to prove anything - even Trump's birth certificate - isn't fake beyond unreasonable doubt. It all depends on "reasonable doubt" and whether the critics are... well reasonable. The thing that really gets me is while they claim he's "the worst president ever, destroying America as we know it" etc, you'd think they'd have better talking points that are a little bit more relevant.
  4. I was thinking, since there are benefits in having filibusters, but also a lot of draw backs, an alternative would be to normally disallow Filibusters, but allow them via a specific mechanism: If the minority party feels they are consistently blocked out and railroaded due to party-line votes by the majority, a call to vote on "Declaring Discord" can be made where a unanimous party-line vote of only the minority would allow Filibusters until the next election cycle, but would also cut pay by 10% for all representatives, across both parties for the same duration. The vote would require 33% to pass based on total numbers, so essentially the minority party would have to at least capture that percent, or vote in coalitions with other minority parties (not likely relevant with only two strong parties, but it would allow for potential shifts.) and still require cross-unanimous support across voting parties. Basically, it may be hard to create the circumstances to be able to use filibusters, but it would allow a minority party to do so regardless of how aggressive or exclusionary the majority is. Since no one (especially politicians) like to take a pay cut it would actually lend some credibility to their determination to filibuster, and deter majority parties from letting relations deteriorate that far. Plus, it would be sweet to see them financially cut upon themselves when they get overly fired up and derpy, when usually it's the public that ends up paying for it entirely. They'll end up comical or credible so it's kinda a win-win either way.
  5. Just on the topic of the "invaders" of Afghanistan: http://www.icosgroup.net/2011/report/drawing-down-will-jeopardise-security/ Granted, 92% of people who try to return an item to a store will state emphatically no one told them they had to bring the receipt... but it really brings attention to the issue of how much we take for granted that common knowledge is common. When people live in an information vacuum they act on what they know - and if people they don't know are securing a position of control in their community under the threat of lethal force the only information they have to go on will probably lead to violence or at least resistance.
  6. I don't think "The UN said it was fair so it has to be fair" is a sound argument either, but I don't think that's what mooey is saying. The real issue at the time was how to deal with an area of the world that was quite difficult to divide into neat nation-state boxes, and a huge range of problems can be traced back to all these borders (British Mandate for Palestine) beyond just the issue of Israel. Of course, there was a huge range of existing problems that were only going to get worse without doing something, and so the UN and the majority of the world did their best in the fairest way they could come up with. The real question is, can you blame the Israeli people today (and those there at it's birth) for going forward and working with the UN to build the state? The other questions are interesting, but don't really apply to the topic of Israel. First of all, the "Law of Return" (the Israeli law) wasn't created in a vacuum - the lack of any safe haven in the world for Jewish people had just been made painfully clear again during WWII and it was a promise they felt they wanted to make to Jewish people the world over. There are far more people than just Jews who suffer a lack of a hospitable home states, but there is no nation in the world that could make that sort of a promise to everyone fitting that definition. The "Law of Return" also allows for converts to Judaism - people "Returning" that were never "there" before. It's simply a law guaranteeing sanctuary for a group of people that had been heavily persecuted, not a statement of "right" to be on that land because ancestors were there and forced out. Before claiming that "If a law singles out Jews (even in a beneficial way), then it must be discriminatory" fails to account for the fact that the law exists because Jews were already being singled out. Not everyone feels that is an acceptable exception but it's the same one we use in the US to justify affirmative action. That in itself is a separate debate, but the distinction is important. What's more, Israel does take in a lot of refuges from around the world that have faced persecution, so that philosophy (of safe haven) is clearly applied across the spectrum, not just to Jews. Lastly, even if it was declared TOMORROW that "right of return" would apply to Palestinian people in the manner you was described (though that law really isn't about that) you have to take into account the security situation, which would be equally difficult if the entire Palestinian population was Jewish but Gaza Strip/West Bank continued to smuggle weapons, launch suicide attacks, missiles, and demand for the destruction of Israel. Even the existing Law of Return says that Jews can be refused if they pose a danger to the state, or have committed serious crimes. I'm not saying I think the "Law of Return" is great or anything (I'm no expert on this topic by any means) but I don't think it really applies to the discussion about how to remedy the issues with Palestinians, nor indicates discrimination against them.
  7. So, I got the green smoke electric cigs, which have Lithium Ion batteries and while they are nice and all, I've ran into a problem with the charge just not holding. I have two batteries but I'll pull one off (that says it's charged) and it just near-dead and flashes the low battery light when I use it. I read (in a really old thread I found via search) that these batteries aren't supposed to have a memory, but the FAQ on the site says: First of all - is a couple hours (plug it in, let it charge, let it finish a few hours before waking up) really going to cause it to crap out in just a few weeks? If it knows when it's done (the light goes green) why does it just keep charging? What should I do, and did I really damage it or is this just blah-talk for a "If we sell you a bad battery expect us to blame it on something you did." style policy? I haven't contacted them yet because I want to have my facts straight first, since replacement batteries cost about $50. If they are messed up, is there a way to restore them? What is the best way to deal with these sorts of batteries when apparently the charger will overcharge?
  8. If the skin's interior was appropriately insulated from electrical discharge, could it be filled with a small number of highly like-charged particles to equalize the pressure through the repulsive effect, while only trivially increasing mass? Personally, I am pretty sure that even if a solution could be found for the "vacuum balloon" crushing issues, the end result would be a total apparatus that was less efficient than using light air or gasses, just due to the extra weight involved in trying to engineer a viable solution. The mass of the air being displaced only weighs so much, and naturally the mass of hydrogen/helium/hot air is even less - so any solution that adds more mass than the mass of the classically used lighter-than-air gasses is going to be less efficient despite being more mechanically complex. It's not exactly as bad as perpetual motion, but there are some hard limits on maximum lift and minimum outer pressure that make it really difficult (barring new materials) aren't likely to be overcome. If they are, they most likely will be "proof of concept" only solutions but still be less efficient than the traditional methods we already use.
  9. But we don't really know for sure if there is a god or which one is right, so if you want to play it safe, best bet is to have no religion - if there is a god, it's only reasonable that you'd be forgiven for waiting until "the big face to face" to believe in the right one, but probably a lot harder to be forgiven for following the wrong one. Regarding OP: The more you start to form a cohesive world view, you develop a sense of "scope" about how important any single event is. When you are younger, your sense of "scope" is usually based on your immediate feelings, which is why scary movies are much scarier and holidays are much more exciting for young kids than adults. At the same time, you also develop a deeper appreciation for some things, while other things matter less: it's only natural to feel as you do as you get older and take a more personal role in weighing what matters to you based on your own personally developed values and experiences. Initially it feels like apathy or disillusionment, and then you end up feeling more strongly about a few things, roughly as strongly about a lot of things, and just don't worry so much about all the rest.
  10. I'm familiar with the laws of thermodynamics, I just don't know how to break it down so my roommate will get it. For everyone that uses the laws of thermodynamics to make a valid point, there's another 10 who don't really understand them and try to use them to defend some cheesy perpetual motion machine getup. So I do get why he's skeptical, but I need to break it down simply enough to make it so clear I can win that $100 bet.
  11. Actually it's a baseboard heater that sits under the window, where it's coldest in the room. My roommate raised the stakes: He says that the idea is ludicrous, and is almost certainly the result of misunderstanding science. He doesn't think there is any way to prove it one way or the other (without turning the whole house into a closed experiment) but if I could, I'll win $100. I'm sure there's exceptions - if the heat was turned off or a window had to be cracked to lower the temperature, if it was warmer outside, if I was running an xray machine that was blasting radiation out through the walls, or radio broadcast (not sure what the wireless router uses) but the circumstances seem pretty straight forward in my case. Any suggestions on how to "win over" my roommate?
  12. If something absorbs light, it absorbs the photons, which raises it's temperature. It may emit infrared energy due to that temperature increase, but in a closed room it'll eventually all be converted to waste heat through absorption. When we measure the "efficiency" of electronic devices, what we talk about is how much energy goes to the intended task, and how much is lost to unintended heat/noise/light. In a closed space, heat/noise/light all end up as heat, so while a fan, CPU, or monitor may not be highly efficient at performing the desired function, when seen as a duel-use "electronic device and heater" I am pretty sure it would be near 100% efficient. I agree, I think insulation is the best way to lower electricity costs in the winter.
  13. I have electric heat, and this time of year it's always on. I also have two lights (florescent) a computer and two monitors that my roommate suggests I turn off more to save electricity. In the summer I'd agree, but all energy "wasted" becomes heat - light bounces around the room (a small amount escapes, but the blinds are always closed) and creates background heat, and all the electrical devices just create excess heat - and since we don't have gas for heat, electric heat is just as efficient (cost wise) when produced by lights/cpus/etc as from electric heaters, right? If anything, having my lights or computer on should just lower the amount of heat the heater has to produce to maintain it's thermostat setting. Am I wrong about the fundamentals of physics here, or do the laws of thermodynamics literally state that (in a system where heat is intentionally maintained) the sum of energy use will be the same? No electric heat source can be more/less efficient than another, if heat is the desired end result. The only thing I can think of that breaks that is (A) music played loud enough to be heard outside and (B) light that is visible outside. Isn't it a wash otherwise?
  14. People take volunteer positions all the time while unemployed, without their unemployment compensation being a factor. It's a great way to network, stay busy, maintain skills, and if you're going to wear your shoes down hitting the pavement anyway, it sure looks a lot better on your resume than some XBox Live achievement unlocks as the months drag on. Personally, I think something like "Hey, if you want to get out of the personal hell that is known as living off unemployment* we now have openings to fill..." would be better, but even so volunteers always get a chance to prove their value before any official job opening is offered, so volunteers naturally have a better chance of getting an opening. Overall though, volunteers require a lot more oversight, and aren't a very scalable solution. *honestly living off of unemployment, not gaming the system with a mix of false dependents and under the table income. Volunteer labor and even material donation can be a real hassle. It's one thing to be short a volunteer at the soup kitchen, but when volunteers just decide it's not worth showing up on any given day, it becomes a project hold-up while people scramble to make sure enough people with the appropriate legal qualifications are on site to safely maintain operations. Materials can be in any range of quality, and the value saved by accepting donations can be entirely lost if quality problems are discovered after the materials have been committed to the project. Once you get into projects that involve Very Large Numbers of people/labor, you have to be especially careful since unlikely problems become statistically likely. While all the red tape can be frustrating, it's often necessary to cover all the bases on such a scale. Quality control assured directly from a material's supplier is often an important part of that process. Otherwise, the donated concrete could collapse just like those apartments in Turkey did, when it turned out the contractor was cutting corners. We tend to think of things as "wood is wood, rock is rock" but something as simple as mold getting into poorly stored particle board can cause problems.
  15. The participants of would probably have a great answer.
  16. We just get the desperate stragglers who failed to pay attention to the "No gas for next 2000 ly" sign while passing Betelgeuse, and fly around for a little bit trying to detect concentrations of he3 before moving on in disgust, and eventually calling Septuple-A for assistance.
  17. I think we need to break down a few variables and really get into the guts of the specifics when it comes to types of gun violence: 1) When we talk about some guy taking a concealed weapon into a building and robbing it at gun point, we often talk about how easy it is in some places to get concealed weapons - but how many people with concealed weapon permits (where required) are actually committing the crimes that involve concealed weapons? It's like trying to "get tough" on drunk drivers by lowering the legal B/A limit to drive, while ignoring the fact that the people who are breaking the law are already drinking and driving over the current limits, and just not getting caught until they t-bone someone. 2) There are many times of crimes and gun violence: We have: A) Crimes of passion, which involve generally spontaneous reactions in which the immediate availability of a firearm allows a violent gun crime/act to take place. Usually these are carried out without planning or often forethought to the consequences of getting caught. They include domestic disputes that turn into murders or murder/suicides, escalated arguments that turn violent, and generally poor impulse control that fails to account for the consequences of the action. It's worth noting that increased punishment can't be expected as a viable deterrent for these sorts of crimes, as they occur when people are blinded by some sort of emotion and not thinking rationally. B) Net-gain crimes, designed to increase how much wealth a person has compared to the day before. These are planned, weapons are chosen based on availability and liability of being caught while in possession of one, but it's also much easier to adapt to legal loopholes and at least obtain whatever is desired, for a cost that escalates depending on how well laws work to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. A huge amount of gang related gun violence is carried out (I assume, correct me if I am wrong) by people who are felons and don't have any legal right to carry a gun - they just live in areas where they are not likely to be arrested (thus, current laws enforcement issue), or otherwise skirt the law. C) Lastly, we have gun violence that is accidental, where kids get their parents' guns, or adults shoot each other while hunting, or accidentally while cleaning. Since some of these accidents involve victims who do not own guns, it's worth noting that they end up suffering as a result of those who do want to own guns. I am not saying that justifies banning guns - just that it's worth noting that there are other, non-criminal means by which people end up the victim of gunshot injuries. If we want to analyze the Gifford case, we have to accept that no increase in punishment would have dissuaded this guy, as he appeared to be entirely committed without concern for personal safety or circumstance. It sounds like he expected to suicide by cop, from his "farewell" sounding final messages he posted online. The next question is: did he buy the gun while acting all fruit-loops, or did he hold it together well enough to appear as stable as any other law abiding citizen while acquiring the gun he used? He apparently had no trouble buying the weapon, ran into trouble buying ammunition at the first Walmart he tried (for behaving oddly), but had no trouble at the second. So what could have been done differently? I suppose in this case, had the first Walmart reported his behavior and concerns to the police, it could have been prevented, but how often can Walmart employees be expected to make that call correctly? They aren't generally known to possess psych degrees, and could create a lot of potential issues if every false hit was followed up on. All in all if we are reacting to this event as the impetus for a gun control regulation debate, it would be nice to know what new gun laws would have done in this case. Requiring concealed weapon permits would only have had an impact on the off chance he was stopped by an officer while concealing it - highly improbable. He passed all the standard requirements for purchasing the gun, but showed no red flags that would prevent him from completing the purchase. I can see how improved mental health laws would have made a difference, but without more data on him being available at the time how could any change to laws regarding the purchasing process have helped prevent this? The only way to prevent this (with different gun laws), is if he tried and failed to buy a gun (or couldn't afford one) and got distracted/arrested for something else before acquiring one illegally. Or am I missing something here? Overall, I am fine with the general discussion on gun laws, but I want to be clear when we are talking about laws that respond to the Gifford case, and laws that are "just good" that people have kicked around for years, but don't apply specifically to the case. Within the broader discussion, I think it's worth while to pinpoint what the aim of proposed legislation or (highlighted existing regional legislation) is, in terms of how it is designed to impact types 1, 2 or 3 of gun violence. When we conflate all gun violence into a single messy ball, even the statistics become meaningless. The statistics for inner city gang members who illegally possess illegally obtained firearms despite felony records are meaningful, but they don't tell us the story when it comes to the full range of gun violence, etc and only skew it when the statistics are blindly combined with any given type of gun violence we are trying to discuss and debate specifically.
  18. padren

    Organ Farming

    NOVA did a show on PBS recently that demonstrated some interesting advances in growing artificial organs: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/can-we-live-forever.html On the topic of the ethics and the use of humans specifically for organ harvesting while not likely, (as technological advances required to do so will open more cost effective mechanisms) it is a very real possibility and does underline how predatory and vicious this world can be. The brutality of what people experience right now is at times crushing, including those kept in a state more akin to a living-death on the fringe of starvation in places like North Korea, or equally cruel acts of predation or indifference the world over that cause immense suffering. However, within the context of where we have come from (Behavioral Modernity occurring about 50,000 years ago, and pretty brutal societies still just 4,000 years ago) the advances we have made in modern times to come out of the brutality that dominates the natural world is actually quite inspiring. We are still largely a predatory species, but we are steadily and consistently shrugging off the baggage that in earlier times was necessary for survival. That's not to say we shouldn't be bothered by human-on-human predation - but it's the fact that we and an ever growing number of humans are bothered by it that there is enough social pressure to continually marginalize and reduce the amount of it in the world year by year.
  19. I'm determinately against this idea, but more than the simple Orwellian factor, how is this supposed to be effective? What are the real dominant factors in STD propagation, as opposed to the scariest factors? I suspect it has to do with: 1) People not getting tested often enough 2) People cheating within relationships 3) People not using protection To a much lesser degree: 4) People having very large numbers of partners 5) Cross-infection via drug use/needle sharing 6) Failure to inform partner of incurable STD All the registry idea does is compel people to inform their partners of their STD status through threat of fine. Yet....risking fines is cheaper than divorce lawyers. The system is also easy to abuse, as lying is really really easy. Anyone could pretty much blackmail any partner that informs them by simply reporting afterwords they were not informed. Given when most risky sex occurs (high levels of inebriation) trying to piece it together after the fact is really not likely to paint an objective picture. On top of that, how can we even be compelled to remember who we've slept with? What happens if you are jut too drunk that night, and have no idea? The majority of the times I've done the random bar thing, I do get a first name, and even remember it for a few days but I don't confirm her ID, I don't swap emails or phone numbers. Afterwords, depending on the night it may be nice to share contact info but generating and verifying the necessary legal documentation is not exactly a top priority at the time. So on a practical level - it isn't realistic. On top of that, catching the scary ones that intentionally spread STDs: they will spread them anyway! They will tell their doctors they haven't been having sex, they'll give fake names to their victims, give out numbers for toss-away phones and hit on the drunkest segment of the population with the highest probability of anonymity. So... yeah I really think it (A) won't address the problem (B) impact people mostly who are not part of the problem © won't impact those people who mostly are the problem.
  20. Speaking for myself, I am both concerned by overly zealous talk of "second amendment remedies" but I also think it is impossible to ignore the fact that any government (society, really) is an agreement between parties that can break down at any moment. It's not even based on anyone's best intellectual intentions, there's very real breaking points with regards to trust and faith. We saw a huge drop in faith within the system during the banking meltdown and frankly I don't think it's possible to crutch on civility or our higher natures to always maintain our faith in being able to work together. If there is one thing I learned from my divorce, it doesn't matter how much you care or how much you want things to get better, once trust breaks down and the injuries outweigh the strengths, there is a natural breakdown that cannot be avoided. Acknowledging things can break down to the point that communication becomes impossible actually helps avoid hitting that point far more than blind faith. It doesn't matter how bad we know things would get should it all break down any more than it helps to know how bad it would be to pass out from exhaustion trying to swim to shore - psychological and emotional exhaustion are as real and as debilitating as physical exhaustion, even if they exist in a more abstract manner. It doesn't matter who you take the government back from, or who you feel "the bad guys are" or even if you think such a breakdown would be an unmitigated disaster or glorious revitalization - when you are done you are simply done and you can only work with what you have at that point. I don't think we are there, and I certainly think the political voices preaching second amendment remedies are largely attempts to very recklessly stir a demographic with absolutely no respect for what that language actually implies or entails. The matter is of such weight I find it personally offensive when I hear it used so flippantly, but that does not mean the language itself is irresponsible or flippant in nature. It's a very real topic about very real factors that should not be ignored or dismissed simply because most of those who do address the topic use it as a cheap pandering tool. People have also been screaming that the sky is falling about all manner of things since the inception of language itself, but we also have had people screaming about dangers that turned out to be very well founded in retrospect. We can say that we haven't ever slipped off the cliff edge like many have thought we would, but in my view of history most of the time instead of something catastrophic happening or not, we usually end up with both being wrong, and we slide a bit further into a society and personal lifestyle that is just a little more depressing than before. We have all kinds of great tools we never had, and great technology, but everyone also just ends up working more, is stressed more, is more disconnected from their neighbors, and has less time and resources for self actualization. I don't think it's safe or warranted (if we want the best possible achievable future) to dismiss concerns about the failings of our current system by simply stating that the current system has managed to keep us from failing entirely. The fact that the fringes have always been wrong about our total collapse doesn't mean that all of the core concerns that set those sorts of people off are not genuinely indicative of dangers that will cause a drop in quality of life and increase in hardship if ignored. I just want to draw the distinction to clarify if we are talking about talk of "gun loading" in general as part of an intellectually honest discussion about the real world issue, or the flippant use of the language to rile people up just to get them to actually leave the house long enough to vote.
  21. I think it's worth making a distinction between types of crimes that involve guns. There are crimes that are spontaneous or improvised in a manner where if a gun is available, it will be involved, and it won't be if one is not. This extends to accidental gun related injuries. I think it's only fair to concede that fewer guns can reduce this sort of gun related violence. However, it does not provide direct justification for reducing citizens' access to guns which gun control ultimately boils down to - to impose any sort of gun control is to limit access, and the implication in an imperfect system is that many people who are entirely responsible gun owners are caught up. I do think some gun control laws are understandable (such as they apply to felons, etc) but there is also a understandable concern that those who do push them tend to have a stance that they cannot go too far and that makes it very hard to trust/debate/negotiate with that side of the debate. Drunk driving laws are fair when it comes to ensuring people are not driving while intoxicated, but you statistically could also argue banning anyone who purchases any alcohol from driving at all would save more lives. Most would see that as too extreme - unless you already believed that all alcohol is bad and people should never buy/consume alcohol in the first place. This is another reason why smoking laws are so hard to swallow - they are usually pushed not by people who want to safeguard the health of those who choose not to smoke, they are pushed to stop people from choosing to smoke. They see the impositions put on smokers callously in a "so what, they should quit anyway" sort of fashion and genuinely have contempt for their freedom of choice to choose to. People like that cannot be trusted to work towards fair (freedom and responsibility centric) smoking laws, just as people who think alcohol is only a disease cannot be trusted to be fair to drinkers, and when so many anti-gun people argue as if every gun owner is a "brainwashed gun nut who doesn't know better" it's absolutely understandable why people resist gun control regulation pushed by such people. I think most people here are fairly reasonable on the topic, and have an intellectual honesty towards the genuine problem of making progress on the issue of reducing gun violence, but it's obvious that many pro-gun control voices (the loudest, politically) really do have contempt for the majority of gun owning citizens. They see gun owners as brainwashed, ignorant, stuck in 1700s or otherwise incapable of realizing they'd be safer without guns, and preferably want people to choose not to own guns. It's probably impossible to both work towards the elimination of a facet of our culture, and at the same time work towards an equitable and fair regulation of that facet of our culture. I think that's actually quite an astute observation. I think honestly in this case, the biggest contributing factor is this individual's isolation within society. It's hard for someone so... well... crazy and on the fringe to be expected to maintain a healthy social life, but it does seem to me that most of the time people who do these sorts of crazy things have become largely isolated and detached, with no one really paying attention to their escalating behaviors. Of course it's not the sort of issue that can be addressed by government and is more a social issue than a political one, but I do feel at times that we are becoming a society too easily isolated. I have no idea how to solve or even address it, or even if it can be addressed intellectually, but as a factor I think it would be wrong to ignore.
  22. I held off on this topic because a lot of speculation occurred early and it seemed important to let the facts settle down before I could come up with any reasonable perspective. I definitely think it's plain to say that this fellow was not the type of man (tea partier fringe) that people warned would be moved by the Glenn Becks and Sarah Palins to go shoot liberal politicians. I also think it can't help but to make it easier for this sort of nut to slip though when the background rhetoric gets vitriolic enough that death threats become far too common. If you are spending your time trying to figure out if a threatening email came from some specific blowhard guy or whatnot, you might not have enough time left to catch the mentally unstable guy with the creepy youtube videos. What bothers me - is not whether such rhetoric should be censored - but whether it should be so passively accepted. The current narrative suggests (and personally I would like to see stats to know if it's the case) that violent threats and vandalism are at a high point against politicians in general. If that's the case, then shouldn't we take the rhetoric down a notch, not by force of law or censorship, but by choice given the concern that those in charge of security will miss the crazy nut jobs blending in with the blowhards? I do think if those words are seen as necessary to the speaker, I think they should be free to be used, and as such not censored... but people would stop using them casually and with hyperbole if we as a whole didn't respond to it. I think this event puts us more in that perspective, and it shows in at least a momentary easing of tone but it will only stick if we actually respond critically to such rhetoric. Politicians can't praise the KKK in today's society because we reject racism so widely - it's not illegal, it would loose a candidate more votes than it could gain them. As for blame, no matter how bad Palin's map may look now, there is very little chance that guy ever would have had a positive enough view of her (or any "establishment" figure) to ever give her map a second look. It would be wrong to blame this shooting on that or any of the "Don't retreat, reload" slogans or even gun guys at rallies. But that does not negate the argument that we should demand better of ourselves and the standards we hold for our countrymen with regards to political discourse. When people try to create the fervor you get with "these crooks should be hanged!" but without using those words (or the hangings, just the energetic fervor that gets out the vote) we should call people out on it, especially when it's our favored party but anytime it shows up in rhetoric. While this event does not likely stem directly from such language, it does underscore why so many people find it disturbing.
  23. I certainly am not an anon apologist, but what is the difference between DDoSing a business online, and protesting en mass at their corporate headquarters? Unless security is breached (ie, trespassing is involved) or damage is done that requires repair (broken windows or damaged data) it's a protest that is announced, carried out, and dispersed. How is clogging up a public area online to hamper business any different than clogging up a public street in front of an abortion clinic to hamper business? It's very different in a practical sense, as ensuring a protesters engaging in illegal actions are singled out and arrested is much more difficult and the impact on the target's business can be far higher - but it's not in the same category as the hacking of Palin's email password. I have no idea what the legal letter of the law is in the US, but I think "cyberprotest" and "cyberwarfare" (and cyberterrorism) shouldn't be too readily conflated. As long as no third party hardware is hijacked, the target site is entirely public, and no false credentials are used to access any non-public subsystems, and the activity occurs as a publicly stated protest beforehand, the characteristics of the "attack" fall far more along the lines of a peaceful protest when compared to physical real-world activities.
  24. I agree entirely, and although I think to some minor degree, character comes into play when assessing the validity of the leaked material but it's a moot point as in this case the authenticity is not contested. The legality issues involving these leaks should not be affected in the least whether this guy is a celebrated war hero or condemned villain. Personally, while I don't think it affects the assessment of the leaked material I do think that this sort of action would reflect quite abhorrently on his character. People have risked their careers and serious criminal charges to leak that information - I am willing to bet they did it out of a sense of moral obligation, not to help some guy settle a score with prosecutors over entirely personal issues. That might as well be blackmail. If the material that would be released in the event of his arrest is important to the public, it should be released as soon as possible regardless of his personal problems.
  25. Out of curiosity, what makes up the key differences between someone facilitating a whistle blower, and someone deserving the terrorist label and treason charges? If someone leaks documents that clearly seem to put them into the category of Whistle Blower, can that be retracted if they also leak other documents that appear to be only embarrassing or otherwise do not fit the description? It seems to me that a lot of very difficult subjective factors come into play: the leak's personal views/bias/motives, questions of character, and the leaked material: in whether the public considers it as evidence of abuse of secrecy privileges meriting exposure. When it's easy - exposing Nixon good, Valarie Plume bad - it's easy. But do we have any real criteria for complex cases that isn't highly subjective?
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