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Comments

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Huh, it has been quite awhile since I posted here

laughingcoyote Well... (8 comments)

Still check in here sometimes. Not as frequently as I used to, though.

about a month ago
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My most recent energy-saving bulbs last ...

laughingcoyote Never had one fail, indeed. (278 comments)

I've put LEDs in some of my outdoor lamps, but most of the indoor ones were replaced with CFLs years ago. They still do just as well as the day I got them.

I'll replace the CFLs with LEDs as they fail, but I'm not expecting that to be any day soon at the rate it's been going.

about 5 months ago
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Predicting a Future Free of Dollar Bills

laughingcoyote Re:What? (753 comments)

Prepaid debit cards, and burner cell phones, are only anonymous if you...oh, pay for them in cash!

about 5 months ago
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Highly respected engingeering school graduates more women than men

laughingcoyote Oh really? (3 comments)

Can highly respected "engingeering" school graduates also spell "engineering"?

about 5 months ago
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Mass. Supreme Court Says Defendant Can Be Compelled To Decrypt Data

laughingcoyote Re:I lost the password (560 comments)

While it’s true that they will open a physical safe themselves if you refuse, you can indeed be held in contempt if you have the ability to open a safe and refuse to do so when presented with a valid warrant. The “physical safe” analogy is one of the things that’s (unfortunately) applied as an existing-law analogy to crypto.

That's actually only true if they already know for certain it's your safe and you have access to it. Otherwise, admitting that you know how to open the safe (by opening it or providing the combination) is admitting that the contents of it are in fact yours. That's self-incrimination and you can't be forced to do it, though of course with a valid warrant they can still try to break into the safe. They just can't make you admit it's yours, and that's what you're doing if you open it.

In this case, however, the idiot went and bragged to the police that yeah, that stuff is all mine! To extend the safe analogy, that's like saying to the police "Yeah, I know the combination, but I'm not giving it to you!" Now you wouldn't be telling them anything they don't know, so opening the safe is no longer self-incriminating. If he'd kept his mouth shut (first rule of being questioned by the police, keep your fucking mouth shut, they mean it when they say anything you say will be used against you), this case would likely have been decided differently.

about 6 months ago
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$57,000 Payout For Woman Charged With Wiretapping After Filming Cops

laughingcoyote Filming the police is not bad (216 comments)

While switching trains, I once saw the police arresting someone at the train stop. They were becoming very aggressive and seemed about to become violent with the man they were arresting, despite the fact that he was not threatening them in any way.

I took out my cell phone and began filming. Very shortly after, one of the officers pointed at me and said something (not audible, he was too far away), but all of a sudden, their behavior became very professional, and the arrest proceeded without incident.

If I were in the same situation, I hope someone would do the same. There is no reason police should not be accountable for their behavior while performing their duties. After all, isn't it they who so often say "If there's nothing to hide, you've nothing to fear"? What would be wrong with a video of police officers doing their job properly? If anything, that would protect them if they were later accused of doing something wrong. The only ones with anything to fear from a video recording are those who intend on doing something wrong, and that's the exact time we need them being taped.

about 6 months ago
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$57,000 Payout For Woman Charged With Wiretapping After Filming Cops

laughingcoyote Re:An interesting caveat (216 comments)

Every "liberal" I've ever known (me included) is strongly in favor of the right to film the police in a public place. This is not a liberal vs. conservative issue, it is a free speech issue.

about 6 months ago
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In the year since Snowden's revelations ...

laughingcoyote Re:secure by default (248 comments)

Anti-taxation groups who are known for hiding political activities under a misclassification get extra tax scrutiny. I'd consider it shocking if they didn't take a good, hard look as compared to the standard screening.

about 6 months ago
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In the year since Snowden's revelations ...

laughingcoyote Re:secure by default (248 comments)

Fast and Furious was a fuckup, to be sure. Those do happen. You learn from them and you go forward the wiser for it. If your standard for any organization is that they never make a mistake or poor decision, I'm afraid you're in for a lot of disappointment indeed.

about 6 months ago
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In the year since Snowden's revelations ...

laughingcoyote Re:secure by default (248 comments)

I certainly don't consider myself a "scandal addict", and most of the manufactured "scandals" (Fast and Furious, Benghazi, Solyndra, IRS/Tea Party, etc., etc.), are indeed just throwing something at the wall and hoping it sticks.

This is not the same. This is collection of massive amounts of data on citizens who are under no suspicion of wrongdoing, let alone enough to get a warrant. That needs to be addressed, and it needs to be addressed in a similar way as wiretapping, where a warrant based upon individualized evidence of wrongdoing is required and the data collection is done so as to minimize the collection of data not related to the purpose of the warrant.

So, you're right about the majority of the "scandals". But not this one. This one is a serious problem. It's not the fault of any given administration, but it needs to stop with this one. I wish people would drop the idiotic faux-scandals and concentrate on this.

about 6 months ago
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SCOTUS Says DNA Collection Permissible After Arrest

laughingcoyote Re:I knew it would be 5-4 (643 comments)

Much of the Constitution was deliberately written in broad terms, for reasons of futureproofing.

Certainly, not even the smartest attendee of the Constitutional Convention could have ever foreseen DNA tests or GPS tracking or electronic snooping. It wasn't even something they could have conceivably imagined at the time. But the Fourth Amendment is clear on the matter nonetheless:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated...

(emphasis added)

DNA is, perhaps, one of the most comprehensive pieces of information contained in one's body, one's "person". It can reveal everything from family lineage (ancestry, siblings, and descendants), to congenital diseases or conditions, to the color of one's eyes. It is not equivalent to a fingerprint, which in itself tells you next to nothing about the owner of that finger other than as an identification. The Fourth Amendment is clearly intended to restrict violations of one's person in that way without justifiable cause, even if the particular method of violation is one the Founders would never have conceived of.

about a year and a half ago
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Singapore Seeks Even More Control Over Online Media

laughingcoyote Overseas? (78 comments)

And exactly how do they intend to enforce this against sites hosted overseas, provided the owner of the site doesn't live in Singapore either? Do they plan to build really, really long canes?

about a year and a half ago
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Texas Poised To Pass Unprecedented Email Privacy Bill

laughingcoyote Re:Texas leads the way, again (262 comments)

Why are you asking "statute in Texas law"? I thought I was pretty clear it was a Supreme Court ruling. (I did use an unqualified acronym for it, SCOTUS, so if that's the source of the confusion I apologize.)

Anyway, Dover v. Kitsmiller is one of the well-known and recent ones, but never reached the SCOTUS. One that did, though, is Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish Board of Education. That explicitly barred even the mention of creationism as an "alternative" to evolution, let alone its explicit teaching. That went all the way to the SCOTUS after the school board was ruled against, and the SCOTUS declined to consider a reversal, so that decision became final, and with the Supreme Court refusal to reverse, became caselaw for the entire land.

Since Supreme Court decisions are sovereign over Texas law, that makes it illegal in Texas or anywhere else in the US. That stems, of course, ultimately, from the First Amendment (government may not establish/endorse religion), and the Fourteenth (rights amendments applied to state/local law as well as federal). Those are ultimately the laws at play here. I'm not sure why you think Texas law would have anything to do with it.

I'm also unsure why you think "(my) personal definitions" have force under Texas law, or where you think I claimed that. But the Supreme Court of the United States, and the US Constitution, most certainly do have legal and binding force in Texas.

about a year and a half ago
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Texas Poised To Pass Unprecedented Email Privacy Bill

laughingcoyote Re:Texas leads the way, again (262 comments)

Even if evolution is "part" of the state standard, teaching of creationism in a science class is forbidden by both law and definition. It was ruled by the SCOTUS, long ago, to be a religious doctrine and not a scientific theory, and it is exactly that, as it is either unfalsifiable (old-earth) or already falsified (young-earth). Any "science" class teaching creationism, is not one.

If you really need a citation for the SCOTUS ruling, I'll dig one up. But yes, I absolutely have "something to stand on" here.

about a year and a half ago
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Texas Poised To Pass Unprecedented Email Privacy Bill

laughingcoyote Re:Texas leads the way, again (262 comments)

Sorry, managed to screw up the link in the last post somehow, will get more coffee. Here's the corrected one: Link

about a year and a half ago
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Texas Poised To Pass Unprecedented Email Privacy Bill

laughingcoyote Re:Texas leads the way, again (262 comments)

No, they're not. They have that law on the books, and then they wink-wink-nudge-nudge when it gets widely broken. Even the governor admitted that they do, in reality, http://firstread.nbcnews.com/_news/2011/08/18/7407124-perry-to-child-on-creationism-vs-evolution-youre-smart-enough-to-figure-out-which-is-right.

So yes, I'm concerned with what's happening in reality. Do you really think that regulation is getting consistently enforced, and teachers who violate it disciplined or fired, when even the governor is saying the direct opposite? Regulations and laws only mean anything if they are, in practice, enforced.

about a year and a half ago
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Do Developers Need Free Perks To Thrive?

laughingcoyote Re:rather have money (524 comments)

At least in the US, you're way out of date. Lifetime limits became illegal in 2010, under the Affordable Care Act. Annual limits may currently be no less than $2 million, and will be outlawed entirely as of 2014.

about a year and a half ago
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Texas Poised To Pass Unprecedented Email Privacy Bill

laughingcoyote Re:Texas leads the way, again (262 comments)

Disagreeing with the above AC is one thing. Disagreeing with established fact and reality is quite another. It is not acceptable to teach things in school that are demonstrably false.

about a year and a half ago
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Texas Poised To Pass Unprecedented Email Privacy Bill

laughingcoyote In the style of Inigo... (262 comments)

"Texas! You did something right!"

about a year and a half ago
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PETA Wants To Sue Anonymous HuffPo Commenters

laughingcoyote Dear PETA... (590 comments)

You're a bunch of liars, hypocrites, and assholes. And do feel free to give it a shot, we have excellent anti-SLAPP provisions in my state.

about a year and a half ago

Submissions

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laughingcoyote laughingcoyote writes  |  more than 8 years ago

laughingcoyote writes "With a friend, I agreed to use Windows for six months on my new laptop. He swore up and down that by the time I was done I'd have found it so easy to use I'd never want to switch back to Linux again. What I found, though, is that while Windows has its advantages, it sure offers a lot of difficulty to the average user. We also agreed that I wouldn't ask him any questions, to better simulate the experience of a novice user to Windows.

Let's start with installation. I got the Windows CD through an "academic" program at my school. It took them several days to burn the CD and get me an "install key" though. When I asked them if I could just download and burn the CD myself, they just looked at me funny and told me they weren't allowed to tell me. They must just be worried about too much bandwidth being used on the distribution mirrors or something.

Well anyway, they eventually got me the CD, with an "install key". When I asked them if it was really a good idea to have someone else generate your initial crypto key, they looked at me funny again and told me it was to prevent "piracy." Now what a crypto key has to do with boats, I don't know. I'm not taking my laptop on boats, knowing my luck it'd get splashed! But they were quite convinced of this.

Well, now I had my CD, so I popped it in to install. There was already a "home" edition of Windows on the laptop, but they told me the "Pro" edition through the school's program was better. When I asked why you couldn't just upgrade through the regular repository, they had no idea what I was talking about. I decided not to press the issue and just upgrade from the CD.

Well, anyway, turns out the "upgrade" from CD formats the entire drive! While I didn't mind too much, this would sure be a nasty shock to a user that had important data on it! They really should encourage people to use a repository upgrade instead. I couldn't find a word on how to do this, even after several Google queries. Someone really needs to get to writing better documentation for novice users, I think.

Well, anyway. I got partway through the install process and was asked for my "key." I put it in, but apparently they'd given me the wrong one! I was told to call a phone number. Now really, why they couldn't just have you generate a new key at the time is beyond me, especially since it took me halfway to forever to input the long code into the phone system, and another half hour or so on hold. I was then transferred to a guy I could hardly understand. His English was alright, but really, they'd do better directing you to an IRC channel-accents don't matter there!

Anyway, as I learned to understand this guy, he kept asking me if my copy was "retail" or "OEM". I told him that my school had burned my copy for me. He then kept asking me the same question, and telling me that burning a copy was "illegal"-or that's what it sounded like. I finally read him the paper I'd been given from my school, and at that point he seemed to change his mind. He gave me a second code to put in, which finally allowed me to complete the install. Now, granted, I'm quite familiar with computers, but this would really have been a significant frustration to the novice user.

Well, after that the install seemed to go through alright, and I removed the installation CD and rebooted. I noted with some dismay that I had not been prompted to create a password, and wondered if the system would do so after the reboot. However, after the reboot, I was let right in without a password! Later on, I came to find out that this "passwordless" user is the default! I certainly would be hesitant to keep any important files on such a system with such a basic flaw in its security model.

Well, of course this was unacceptable, so the first thing I did was attempt to open a shell. I first looked under "accessories"-nothing. I then used ctrl-alt-F6 to attempt to switch to a virtual console-and again, no result. I tried "system," and every menu on the system, but was just unable to find a shell altogether.

Well, eventually, after some Google searching, it turns out you must hit the "run" button and type in "cmd" to open a shell. Now that's a bit arcane, but that's not the worst of it! Turns out, the default shell does almost exactly nothing! After trying "passwd", "password", and several other variants, I did some more Googling in search of the correct command. Turns out it's not even possible to set your password from the shell! (I was wondering at this time how a remote SSH user would possibly manage, but it turns out it's not even possible to log in remotely to a shell via SSH!) Well, anyway, I finally found the "control panel", and managed to get the password set.

I noticed at this time my user was set as a "computer administrator"-this seemed quite odd. After yet more Google searching, it turns out that not only does Windows create a passwordless account upon install, but this account has root privileges! Not only that, but any further accounts created have, by default, root access as well! Do you really think the average user, setting up a child's account, for example, would have the sense to downgrade that user's privileges? It may seem a little thing, but it's this type of reason why Windows is simply not ready for the average user's desktop.

Finally, I had absolutely NO luck figuring out how to use the Windows repository. No amount of Googling could get me the answer, and on the Windows forums I posted on the users seemed not even to know what I was talking about. Generally, you have to go out on the Internet, and find -every- program you wish to download! Really, Linux solved this problem years ago!

Well, I figured I'd set up a way to log in remotely, though I was a little leery of this given the seeming lack of security. I did find a way to do this, called "remote desktop"-though one must log into a graphical environment. However, this type of login has a serious bug-a remote login kicks any other user offline! And if the local user logs back in, the remote user is similarly kicked. I quickly gave up on this, there's no telling what other bugs might be present in such an obviously flawed application.

So, overall, while I did enjoy some of the Windows games, and it was a different experience-overall, I'm sure glad to be installing my nice familiar Linux environment, as the six months are up today. Maybe in five or ten years Windows can be overhauled to be ready for the desktop, but right now? It's not even close.

"
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laughingcoyote laughingcoyote writes  |  more than 8 years ago

laughingcoyote writes "President Bush admitted today that secret CIA prisons have been used by the United States to detain terrorism suspects. Bush states that 14 suspects were moved from these camps to Guantanamo Bay, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed. He denies any wrongdoing and states that interrogation techniques at the facility are "tough but not torture. While the existence of these facilities has been implicitly understood for some time, what effect will this open admission have on US relations with European allies and the rest of the world?"

Journals

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This is not my America.

laughingcoyote laughingcoyote writes  |  about 8 years ago

I will say this in short, because the incident speaks for itself.

This does not happen in my America. Those who did this are criminals. They need to go to prison and never get out.

And for anyone who disagrees? I'm sorry, but you're guilty too. Anyone who would tolerate or defend the torture of anyone, but especially a totally innocent man, needs a nice tight cell too.

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My Windows experience

laughingcoyote laughingcoyote writes  |  more than 8 years ago

With a friend, I agreed to use Windows for six months on my new laptop. He swore up and down that by the time I was done I'd have found it so easy to use I'd never want to switch back to Linux again. What I found, though, is that while Windows has its advantages, it sure offers a lot of difficulty to the average user. We also agreed that I wouldn't ask him any questions, to better simulate the experience of a novice user to Windows.

Let's start with installation. I got the Windows CD through an "academic" program at my school. It took them several days to burn the CD and get me an "install key" though. When I asked them if I could just download and burn the CD myself, they just looked at me funny and told me they weren't allowed to tell me. They must just be worried about too much bandwidth being used on the distribution mirrors or something.

Well anyway, they eventually got me the CD, with an "install key". When I asked them if it was really a good idea to have someone else generate your initial crypto key, they looked at me funny again and told me it was to prevent "piracy." Now what a crypto key has to do with boats, I don't know. I'm not taking my laptop on boats, knowing my luck it'd get splashed! But they were quite convinced of this.

Well, now I had my CD, so I popped it in to install. There was already a "home" edition of Windows on the laptop, but they told me the "Pro" edition through the school's program was better. When I asked why you couldn't just upgrade through the regular repository, they had no idea what I was talking about. I decided not to press the issue and just upgrade from the CD.

Well, anyway, turns out the "upgrade" from CD formats the entire drive! While I didn't mind too much, this would sure be a nasty shock to a user that had important data on it! They really should encourage people to use a repository upgrade instead. I couldn't find a word on how to do this, even after several Google queries. Someone really needs to get to writing better documentation for novice users, I think.

Well, anyway. I got partway through the install process and was asked for my "key." I put it in, but apparently they'd given me the wrong one! I was told to call a phone number. Now really, why they couldn't just have you generate a new key at the time is beyond me, especially since it took me halfway to forever to input the long code into the phone system, and another half hour or so on hold. I was then transferred to a guy I could hardly understand. His English was alright, but really, they'd do better directing you to an IRC channel-accents don't matter there!

Anyway, as I learned to understand this guy, he kept asking me if my copy was "retail" or "OEM". I told him that my school had burned my copy for me. He then kept asking me the same question, and telling me that burning a copy was "illegal"-or that's what it sounded like. I finally read him the paper I'd been given from my school, and at that point he seemed to change his mind. He gave me a second code to put in, which finally allowed me to complete the install. Now, granted, I'm quite familiar with computers, but this would really have been a significant frustration to the novice user.

Well, after that the install seemed to go through alright, and I removed the installation CD and rebooted. I noted with some dismay that I had not been prompted to create a password, and wondered if the system would do so after the reboot. However, after the reboot, I was let right in without a password! Later on, I came to find out that this "passwordless" user is the default! I certainly would be hesitant to keep any important files on such a system with such a basic flaw in its security model.

Well, of course this was unacceptable, so the first thing I did was attempt to open a shell. I first looked under "accessories"-nothing. I then used ctrl-alt-F6 to attempt to switch to a virtual console-and again, no result. I tried "system," and every menu on the system, but was just unable to find a shell altogether.

Well, eventually, after some Google searching, it turns out you must hit the "run" button and type in "cmd" to open a shell. Now that's a bit arcane, but that's not the worst of it! Turns out, the default shell does almost exactly nothing! After trying "passwd", "password", and several other variants, I did some more Googling in search of the correct command. Turns out it's not even possible to set your password from the shell! (I was wondering at this time how a remote SSH user would possibly manage, but it turns out it's not even possible to log in remotely to a shell via SSH!) Well, anyway, I finally found the "control panel", and managed to get the password set.

I noticed at this time my user was set as a "computer administrator"-this seemed quite odd. After yet more Google searching, it turns out that not only does Windows create a passwordless account upon install, but this account has root privileges! Not only that, but any further accounts created have, by default, root access as well! Do you really think the average user, setting up a child's account, for example, would have the sense to downgrade that user's privileges? It may seem a little thing, but it's this type of reason why Windows is simply not ready for the average user's desktop.

Finally, I had absolutely NO luck figuring out how to use the Windows repository. No amount of Googling could get me the answer, and on the Windows forums I posted on the users seemed not even to know what I was talking about. Generally, you have to go out on the Internet, and find -every- program you wish to download! Really, Linux solved this problem years ago!

Well, I figured I'd set up a way to log in remotely, though I was a little leery of this given the seeming lack of security. I did find a way to do this, called "remote desktop"-though one must log into a graphical environment. However, this type of login has a serious bug-a remote login kicks any other user offline! And if the local user logs back in, the remote user is similarly kicked. I quickly gave up on this, there's no telling what other bugs might be present in such an obviously flawed application.

So, overall, while I did enjoy some of the Windows games, and it was a different experience-overall, I'm sure glad to be installing my nice familiar Linux environment, as the six months are up today. Maybe in five or ten years Windows can be overhauled to be ready for the desktop, but right now? It's not even close.

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Yet another fundamentalist tactic

laughingcoyote laughingcoyote writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Our favorite fundamentalists are at it again! This time, they're trying to push through a bill called the Public Expression of Religion Act. This bill, if passed, would prohibit plaintiffs in cases of even blatant violations of church and state separation from being reimbursed their attorney's fees.

I've included a sample letter, which I already sent to my Congressman on the issue. It also outlines exactly why I object to the bill. Please feel free to use, modify, or do whatever you like with it.

Dear Rep. ________,

I am writing to you to urge you to vote against the Public Expression of Religion Act.

While the Act purports to end a "chilling effect" on public officials' expression of religion, this is untrue. No public official has ever been successfully sued for attending church or promoting religion on their own time.

On the other hand, public officials are barred from either promoting or prohibiting religion in the course of their public duties. This prohibition does not come from a "chilling effect" of litigation, but from their duty to uphold the Constitutional principle of separation of church and state.

In many cases, it is difficult for the victims of religious discrimination to show actual damages. In this case, the recovery of attorneys' fees allows them to still be able to bring a suit in these cases.

Even when this happens, attorneys' fees are only awarded to the plaintiff when they are correct-when the rules, laws, and Constitution really were being violated! This is entirely right and proper.

The "threat" of a successful lawsuit against any government entity over an unlawful religious display can be avoided with one very simple tactic: Follow the rules in the first place.

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Constrained Writing Exercise

laughingcoyote laughingcoyote writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Constrained writing exercise, as conceived by ShadowWrought.

This should be a fun and quick exercise. What follows below are ten words randomly generated, you must them all in your work, though not necessarily in the order in which they are listed (though you do get bonus points if you do;-). The limits on the writing is simple:

  • For prose, no more than 5 paragraphs.

  • For poetry, no more than 20 lines.

  • For a play, TV script, or screenplay, no more than a single brief scene.

And the words are...

  1. Spacecraft
  2. Parasite
  3. Refugee
  4. Volcano
  5. Boiler
  6. Generator
  7. Jam
  8. Photograph
  9. Boxer
  10. Onion

My submission follows in a comment.

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Anarchocapitalism debate

laughingcoyote laughingcoyote writes  |  more than 9 years ago

I recently got into a very interesting debate with a self-styled "anarchocapitalist". I've read von Mises' works, and to me, they seem so full of inconsistency, supposition, and half-baked ideas so as to be totally unrealistic. But what do you think? Can anyone out there coherently defend this philosophy? Does anyone else agree with me? I put this here rather then linking directly so as not to spam up a public discussion with offtopic posts (well, more then has happened, anyway.) Your thoughts?

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