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Justice Department: Default Encryption Has Created a 'Zone of Lawlessness'

Immerman Re:Sucks to be law enforcement in a Republic (336 comments)

I think your history is a little off - as I recall, traditionally the king had absolute power, it wasn't until the nobility strong-armed him into agreeing to the Magna Carta, essentially at gunpoint, that they (not the people) got a guaranteed voice in government. It wasn't until much later that the peasants got a voice as well.

Basically, UK "monarchy" is an anomaly, not the norm, and today is really a monarchy only in name. The royal family long since signed away all their political power, except for that which they can exercise by way of cultural influence or threats to reclaim their vast wealth held in trust by the British government on condition of certain considerations - a canny maneuver to make sure the family would maintain a special influence with the government that replaced them.

Certainly republics can descend into police states as well - but that requires that either the people support such a maneuver, or that the government has violated it's trust and you don't actually have republic anymore. Single-party systems (or two-party collusion) are probably the most common way to maintain such a farce.

2 hours ago
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Justice Department: Default Encryption Has Created a 'Zone of Lawlessness'

Immerman Re:Wait... (336 comments)

And for any such web site obviously the "zone of lawlessness" threat is so much smoke. It's only relevant in realms where the corporation doesn't already have access to the data, or is willing to obstruct a legitimate court order.

4 hours ago
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Why Screen Lockers On X11 Cannot Be Secure

Immerman Re:Screen locker == physical access == ... (242 comments)

Only because your phone doesn't have the ability to boot from external media by default. Change that and you grant anyone with a bootable flash card/USB drive total access to your phone. In fact with physical access and a screwdriver they could get around that boot restriction as well - worst case scenario they just have to replace the soldered-on flash drive. The extreme hardware integration that makes a phone such a disposable, non-upgradable consumer item does grant you a measure of security against casual intruders, but don't think that it's any more than an inconvenience to a serious attack.

4 hours ago
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Why Screen Lockers On X11 Cannot Be Secure

Immerman Re:not the point (242 comments)

I don't know - every program that I've ever restarted from scratch has turned out far more powerful and flexible with a far smaller codebase than the original. Lessons learned from the first go-round and all that. With a better understanding of the problem space comes a better ability to address it efficiently.

4 hours ago
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Why Screen Lockers On X11 Cannot Be Secure

Immerman Re:Uh, okay? (242 comments)

It is! Unfortunately the Desktop is itself rapidly fading in favor of the laptop, and desktop Linux has power management issues that make it substantially less suitable for mobile applications..

4 hours ago
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Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox

Immerman Re:Paradox? (211 comments)

Whales appear to have social stratification and symbolic communication (spoken language) - the others are of course more problematic for a species without hands, and far better evolved to live in comfort in a much more bountiful environment. Though being basically unchallenged apex predators with a globe-spanning communication system allowing them to coordinate between remote "tribes" could be interpreted as providing separation and domination over their environment. But that lack of hands and natural long-range communication system does make it seem unlikely that they would ever develop the technology to communicate over interstellar distances.

As for other hominids, no I don't think their short lifespan is a factor in the Drake equation - they were driven to extinction by competition with another intelligent species. If we had not won the evolutionary/cultural arms race, or never existed at all, then one of them would have taken our place as a planet-dominating civilization - they went extinct only because that aspect of the Drake equation had already been satisfied - in a sense they were a "Drake insurance policy", nearly guaranteeing the emergence of civilization even if our own species hadn't made the cut.

4 hours ago
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We May Have Jupiter To Thank For the Nitrogen In Earth's Atmosphere

Immerman Re:There is a lot of nitrogen about (40 comments)

Yes, but "in the universe" is a much different location than "in the narrow ribbon of proto-planetary material that formed the Earth". Hydrogen and Helium are by far the most common elements by mass, and yet there's very little of either on Earth, due in large part to the fact that they are too light to be gravitationally bound by such a small planet unless incorporated into other compounds.

Consider that a proto-planetary disc around a star would act as something of a centrifuge, causing stratification by molecular weight, so elements would tend to clump together according to the molecular weights of the compounds they were most stably bound into at that point in time. And anything that changed the stability of those molecules - say heating, or a change in concentration of reactive chemicals due to large bodies causing mixing between cloud strata - would change the preferred strata of said elements as they were incorporated into molecules with a different mass, as well as the mixing itself causing molecules to deposit on proto-planetary bodies outside their preferred strata.

5 hours ago
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We May Have Jupiter To Thank For the Nitrogen In Earth's Atmosphere

Immerman Re:Saturn pulling Jupiter (40 comments)

Nothing ever gets pulled closer, except that something else gets thrown further away in equal measure, anything else would violate conservation of momentum. This page give a bit of an overview: http://www.boulder.swri.edu/~k...

As I understand it the idea is that they were acting within a relatively dense gas-and-asteroid cloud rather than the modern vacuum. Jupiter was moving inwards as it scooped up gas and asteroids from the inner system, launching most of that material into the outer system. And miniscule Saturn was towed along in it's wake. Eventually the orbital resonance with an encroaching Saturn slowed and reversed Jupiter's motion, at which point they began scooping up the detritus that had been thrown outward on their inward journey and hurling it back inward again while they moved outwards, eventually moving outwards far enough that they could start scooping up the previously undisturbed outer-system cloud and hurling it inward, moving them even farther out than they had originated. And of course Uranus and Neptune had meanwhile been busy throwing more material inwards from the far-outer system as they performed their own migrations, further fueling the outward migration of Jupiter.

Think of it like a gravitationally powered rocket engine - every asteroid that does a gravitational slingshot around Jupiter transfers just as much momentum to Jupiter as it does to the asteroid.

Eventually Jupiter's orbit stabilized when it ran out of enough outer-system detritus to propel it further outward, while orbital resonance continued to propel Saturn even further outward at the expense of propelling Jupiter slightly inward, solidifying the new orbital position.

5 hours ago
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Justice Department: Default Encryption Has Created a 'Zone of Lawlessness'

Immerman Re:Sucks to be law enforcement in a Republic (336 comments)

In a monarchy power is presumed to flow from the king - the police are his *enforcers*: his word is law, and justice be damned.

In a republic, or any other form of government which presumes that power flows from the citizenry, the police are charged with being *protectors*, and are severely limited in their interactions with the citizenry who grant them their power.

5 hours ago
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Justice Department: Default Encryption Has Created a 'Zone of Lawlessness'

Immerman Re:Wait... (336 comments)

Easy enough to fix too, at least in theory: If a corporation refuses to release *their* information in response to a court order, imprison the CEO and dissolve the corporation. Sure you'd have to get a law passed to that effect, but it a hard argument to make that we should compromise everyone's security rather than make the guilty parties liable for their crimes.

On the other hand if he's talking about the companies being unable to hand over *my* data and communications... well that's not their data to hand over to begin with. Send *me* the court order and proceed from there.

6 hours ago
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Researchers Tie Regin Malware To NSA, Five Eyes Intel Agencies

Immerman Re:I wonder... (93 comments)

Possibly so - but if one man gets away with it relatively unscathed, that may embolden the next. Also you have to consider that thanks to exponential population growth modern generations involve a *hell* of a lot more individuals than anything even a few hundred years ago - what was once would have been "once every few generations" rarity can now be reasonably expected to occur many times per generation. Hell, we've already had both Snowden and Manning within a relatively brief window.

7 hours ago
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Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox

Immerman Re:Fermi's paradox is hubris (211 comments)

Okay, granted - at *that* scale, yes there are some limits. But the further you go into the past the less constricting those limits would have been.

I also seem to recall that at the galactic cluster scale, and possibly even at the supercluster scale, galaxies will remain gravitationally bound to each other rather than being pulled apart by expansion, so that's 54+ galaxies in our local group that will remain accessible. And if the Virgo supercluster is strongly enough bound, that means there will be at least 1500-2000 more galaxies that will also remain in range.

Also, I haven't heard any reason to believe that the speed of expansion is increasing - in fact I thought it was believed to be decreasing in terms of acceleration per unit distance, perpetually slowing from the initial insane inflationary period after the big bang - it's simply that the amount of distance to remote galaxies is already increasing faster than the expansion rate is slowing, so that their acceleration away from us will continue to increase without bound.

7 hours ago
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Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox

Immerman Re:Paradox? (211 comments)

Yeah, I suppose they might, if they were discovered within rock that gave some sense of their actual age. Otherwise they would almost certainly be credited to earlier civilizations of the new species, no doubt confounding their equivalent of anthropologists with the extreme precision with which they were cut. Might even help inspire a lunatic fringe convinced that aliens had visited Earth in the past.

7 hours ago
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Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox

Immerman Re:Paradox? (211 comments)

Do you mean technological civilizations? Because whales have a pretty sophisticated globe-spanning culture.

My point was more that there's lots of candidate species that, in the right circumstances, might have potential to cross whatever threshold it is that we crossed. And the evidence suggests that at least most other human species went extinct as a result of our own expansion, had we not evolved one of the other variant would likely have become the dominant species instead.

7 hours ago
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Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox

Immerman Re:Fermi's paradox is hubris (211 comments)

The speed of light puts no barriers on expansion, only - give us a few million years with technology we already have the early stages of and we could colonize the galaxy without trouble. And if we colonized a world around one of the many stars being expelled at high speeds towards a distant galaxy then in a few hundred million years we could start all over again there.

Also, Fermi's paradox makes no assumptions about the endgame of evolution - the phrase is itself nonsense: evolution has no goal except reproduction, Fermi's paradox only assumes that where there is life, there is a chance that a technological intelligence may arise - a safe assumption seeing how as we have one clear example just in the most recent few million years of this planet's history (and before that we have insufficient knowledge to say anything - we might be only the latest technological civilization to arise on Earth, how would we know otherwise across tens of millions of years? Nothing we've created will still be here that far in the future.)

yesterday
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Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox

Immerman Re:Paradox? (211 comments)

Just remember, that those 1-in-a-billion odds are based on a number of assumptions. For starters there were, if I recall correctly, at least a half-dozen different species of "humans" that evolved on this planet from early proto-humans. Virtually all whales are candidates for being intelligent life, though very different from our own. They're undeniably tool users, though the lack of grasping appendages severely limits tool-making. Elephants are pretty damned smart as well. Parrots have been documented making custom tools to solve specific problems, while ravens are downright unsettlingly smart. And I could list dozens more. And those are only among the 1% of species that exist today.

As we look back into antiquity we're finding evidence of tool-users that predate our understanding of the emergence of human intelligence by many hundreds of thousands of years - we *assume* that those early tool-users were human, but I don't recall any evidence that would specifically suggest that was the case in the absence of a presupposition that pre-humans were the only intelligent species on the planet.

Go back further, say to the age of dinosaurs, and you could have had vast technological civilizations, and all their technology would have long since degraded into unrecognizablity. Just as if we don't make it through the next few centuries, then in a few million years the only evidence that we ever existed will be the geological disruption of our deep-earth mining activity and maybe a few fossils. And even the dinosaurs are relative newcomers - reptiles and proto-mammals covered the surface long before them, and before that insects the size of automobiles ruled the land and sky unchallenged for millions of years. And of course the seas were rich with wildly varied with life long before anything ventured on to land. This planet has had a half-billion years of complex life teeming on its surface, only a tiny fraction of which ever made it into the fossil record, to assume that we're the first intelligent species, or even the first technological one, is an assumption with no evidence behind it.

Perhaps as we colonize the moon we'll find evidence of previous intelligences - certainly there's a much better chance it would be preserved on an inert rock than a living planet. And then there's all those anomalies which have been found in Google Maps Mars - all coincidence, or evidence of previous technological residents? Heck, even if life didn't arise there it might have been colonized by Earthers - after all geological evidence suggests it may well have been a wet world as recently as 10 million years ago, it was probably a far more inviting world when saurians ruled the Earth.

yesterday
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Parents Investigated For Neglect For Letting Kids Walk Home Alone

Immerman Re:The Dangers of the World (783 comments)

At least you recognize that it's for the comfort of the parents, rather than the safety of the child. And since you are the adult in this hypothetical scenario let me say, in the kindest possible way: grow up. It's not all about you. In fact, as a parent you have a responsibility to put your child's emotional development ahead of your own insecurity.

yesterday
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Researchers Tie Regin Malware To NSA, Five Eyes Intel Agencies

Immerman Re:I wonder... (93 comments)

Sure this horse is out of the barn, but there's lots of horses - that's why you want to make sure the others all hear the first one screaming as it's being eaten by cougars.

I can think of only a few reasons why it hasn't been done:
- To be truly effective it must be obvious that the US/NSA was behind it, and there may well be a fear that employing extra-legal methods to send that message would generate the public backlash that has thus far failed to manifest. A martyr can be far more powerful than a man.
- Given that he is under Russian protection, any such action could be taken as a direct assault on Russia, and in the current international political climate that might be regarded as too great a risk to take. They seem to be positioning themselves as the spokesman of a new global power structure - no sense in ceding them any more moral high ground than they've already got.
- The guilty parties still have some scruples (hey, nobody values their scruples like the man who doesn't have many)

yesterday
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DEA Cameras Tracking Hundreds of Millions of Car Journeys Across the US

Immerman Re:Cam-tastic (151 comments)

The government only has the right to make and enforce those laws Necessary and Proper to the execution of the powers given to it in the constitution.

As for the bill of rights, that was added later as a second line of defense to address some people's concerns that the government might try to expand beyond the powers granted to it. The 9th and 10th amendments made this fairly explicit:

9th: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
10th: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

yesterday
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Researchers Tie Regin Malware To NSA, Five Eyes Intel Agencies

Immerman Re:I wonder... (93 comments)

Revenge wouldn't be the point - the point would be to send a clear message to future patriots that might try a similar stunt. Revenge would just make it more satisfying to do so.

yesterday

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