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Comments

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White House Refuses To Comment On Petition To Investigate Chris Dodd

oliphaunt Re:And you fail at petitions (765 comments)

Congress can only exercise the powers that the constitution grants it. In some areas (like the ACA mandate) there is legitimate disagreement about the proper scope for that grant of power (does commerce clause allow Congress to pass laws regulating economic inactivity? I think Raich and Wickard were wrongly decided too, but the fact that I don't disagree with the law doesn't give me license to disobey it).

There is no meaningful dispute that Congress can impeach its own members. It can't. The impeachment power may be exercised over the following persons: (let's read it together now, Article 2 section 4): "The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High crimes and Misdemeanors."

senators (and ex-senators) are not Article 2 "civil Officers." This clause is commonly understood to apply to executive branch persons appointed by the president. It also applies to federal judges, who are (guess what?) appointed by the president.

Congress members are not subject to the impeachment powers of their own house, because the constitution doesn't grant that power to the House or the Senate.

more than 2 years ago
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White House Refuses To Comment On Petition To Investigate Chris Dodd

oliphaunt You fail at the constitution (765 comments)

Impeachment is not available as a remedy against Article 1 elected officials. Impeachment is a power granted to Article 1 as a tool to be used against Article 2 and Article 3.

See Article 1, Section 2, Clause 5 and Article 1, Section 3, Clauses 6 and 7.

Article 1 gives both houses of Congress the power to police and sanction their own members, but good luck getting them to use it.

more than 2 years ago
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How Viewing a "Virtual You" Can Help You Save

oliphaunt Re:Why on earth would I save? (182 comments)

We'd be damn lucky to see only 8%. Food costs went up 4% month over month in February alone, the greatest monthly increase since 1974. Assume the February increase is double the "actual" rate and we'd still be looking at 25% year-over-year inflation.

Core inflation in 1974 was about 12% over the entire year. It was
over 30% for the period from 1973-1975. This is significant because
there is general agreement about the causes of the violent inflation
of the early 70s: The global financial order fundamentally changed in
1971 and 1972, when Nixon ended the Bretton Woods agreement and took
the US entirely off the gold standard. We had to go off gold because
we were printing too much money to pay for the war in Vietnam, which
devalued the dollar.

Sound familiar?

Spending on Vietnam created an arbitrage opportunity for [french]
people to buy dollars, exchange them for gold at the US-pegged price
of $35 per oz of gold, and then sell the gold on the market for
$40ish. When the US went off gold and floated our currency, there was
a long (5-10 year) period of economic shock while everyone had to work
out what happened. Part of the consequence was widespread price
inflation in the US. This turned out to be a good thing for
people who had 30-yr fixed mortgage payments, but not such a great thing for profits at banks.

The spot price for an ounce of gold today is hovering around $1400 /oz.

Last month's food and energy price increases will not show up in
CPI-based adjustments to wages and durable-goods prices because the US
bureau of labor statistics excludes those costs from its calculations.

Good thing people don't include the cost of food or gas in their
estimated cost of living.

more than 3 years ago
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Judge Allows Subpoenas For Internet Users

oliphaunt Re:Hrm (338 comments)

again, no. OP and the rest of this thread is about a ruling in a civil case, where the cause of action is civil copyright infringement. here's a link to the entire docket. Notice how there are no state parties involved? That's because infringement for non-commercial use is a civil violation.

17 USC 506 provides for criminal penalties in cases of infringement for commercial purposes or for financial gain. No one is accusing the downloaders in this case of selling their copies, so 506 is not relevant to this conversation.

more than 3 years ago
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Judge Allows Subpoenas For Internet Users

oliphaunt Re:Hrm (338 comments)

no. copyright infringement is a civil violation.

more than 3 years ago
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Judge Allows Subpoenas For Internet Users

oliphaunt Not good enough (338 comments)

Your personal information is not "private." Your ISP can easily relate your IP address back to your personal information, and they will happily happily do so and then release the information to comply with a subpoena.

I don't know enough about Tor to say whether it might help to conceal your identity from other nodes on the internet... but if it does, that might be enough to avoid this kind of problem.

more than 3 years ago
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Judge Allows Subpoenas For Internet Users

oliphaunt Re:Hrm (338 comments)

If it was a criminal case, you'd have real 4th-Amendment and 1st-Amendment issues. As it is, we're talking about a civil matter, and those constraints don't apply to non-state plaintiffs.

Judge Collyer isn't breaking new ground here- it's generally accepted by US courts that individuals can have no expectation that information they freely give to other persons is "private." I think one of the problems here is that people are confusing "personal" with "private." Your personal information is not necessarily "private," in either the ordinary sense or in the technical legal sense.

Your name is not private. Your street address is not private. Your vehicle license plate number is not private. In many states, your driver's license number and your driving records are not private.

In this case, the USCG is asking the ISP to give up the names and mailing addresses of people who were using certain IP addresses at a given time on a given date. Since names and mailing addresses are not private, neither the ISP nor the people using those addresses can claim "privacy" as a reason not to comply with this request.

That's just how it is. People who are reacting to this with surprise are wrong to blame the judge in this case- her ruling was made according to well-settled law. She cited this portion of her analysis to cases in the 4th and 6th circuit courts of appeals, and there are similar decisions from several of the other circuits as well.

You can read the whole order here: Order denying motion to quash.

Now, if the question was whether your ISP could turn over your DNS logs, effectively showing the list of sites you were connected to and the dates and times of connection... well, that's a very different sort of thing.

(why yes, I am a lawyer working on some of these cases).

more than 3 years ago
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Judge Allows Subpoenas For Internet Users

oliphaunt Re:Hrm (338 comments)

In criminal court, yes. This is a civil lawsuit.

more than 3 years ago
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Throwing Out Software That Works

oliphaunt Re:My argument in favor of "devolution" (622 comments)

Why the HELL does HP want to load stupid monitor apps for every device installed?

They've learned from corporate experience that they need to watch added hardware very closely or it will damage operations. See, e.g., the itanium, the iPaq, Carly Fiorina, Mark Hurd...

more than 3 years ago
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Chevy Volt Not Green Enough For California

oliphaunt Re:I'm puzzled (384 comments)

except who wants to go to Lodi? Presumably highway expansion would happen in places where people tend to want to go.

more than 3 years ago
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Apple Sues HTC Again Over Patents

oliphaunt Re:There's two issues here (263 comments)

Or, you know, the Palm Treo series. I got my first one in 2003. Still have a 755p now, but shopping for an android to replace it (droid 2 probably, I'm a sucker for hardware keyboard). Palm OS had an open dev environment, free SDK availability, widely distributed app downloads, native ssh and imap clients, the first big (for the time) color touchscreens, data tethering over usb cable and bluetooth, etc etc etc.

Too bad they were so goddamn stupid at actually running a business that they've never made a profit.

And the Pre feels like a piece of junk.

about 4 years ago
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Global "Last Mile" Performance Stats Going Public

oliphaunt the plural of "anecdote" (233 comments)

first a nugget of fact, then some commentary:

1. When we moved to Portland, Oregon, we had Qwest come out to the house to rewire one of the phone jacks because the mooks who hooked it up to the outside world crosswired the connections- we didn't even have dial tone. After the tech fixed the problem, first thing he did after confirming DSL sync was to run a speed test. I asked him if that was SOP and he said that he was trained to always run a speed test for new customers- he suggested that it might be part of an upsell but that he doesn't like selling so he never comments (oh, you're only getting 750k down, but you're in an area where 7/1 MB service is available... did you know you can upgrade for just $3.50/month!???? ...). YMMV but if this is SOP for Qwest on installs, there is one population of regular testers.

2. I agree with earlier commenters- there is probably a self-selecting sampling bias.

3. Because of #2, any "data" they collect is probably very skewed towards computer-savvy users who are demanding higher-speed services and using their website to check if the service they're getting matches what they're paying for. Unless there are some details of the methodology that they're not telling us about, the survey probably reports higher bandwidth than actually is delivered to the majority of people with net access in those cities. If it's just a simple aggregation & average of whoever decides to click on speedtest.com from inside a given city's IP range, well, that probably tells you something... but it's probably not a good proxy for a complete picture of "last mile" connectivity.

more than 4 years ago
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Saturn's Strange Hexagon Recreated In the Lab

oliphaunt YOU ARE EDUCATED STUPID (103 comments)

I am intrigued by your ideas and I wish to subscribe to your news-letter.

more than 4 years ago
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"Mandelbulb," a 3D Mandlebrot Construct, Discovered

oliphaunt broccoli (255 comments)

and here I thought I was coming to read a post about Romanesco Broccoli (link goes to gis for "romanesco"). Seriously, it's like eating math.

more than 4 years ago
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US Supreme Court Skeptical of Business Method Patents

oliphaunt Re:Radio? (160 comments)

anyone who thinks different from me isn't necessarily weird, but if they arrive at a different conclusion than I reached, they're most likely wrong.

more than 4 years ago
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Chicago Court Throwing Out LIDAR Speeding Tickets

oliphaunt Re:Colonel Tribune (245 comments)

funny. You are my new hero.

more than 4 years ago
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The Irksome Cellphone Industry

oliphaunt Re:Even simple steps would improve their image (272 comments)

if you had a treo running palm OS, you could get something like TreoButler or CallFilter (or, I'm sure, any number of other apps) to control incoming calls. I have CallFilter, which allows me to sort calls by caller ID. You can select straight-to-voicemail, ring-to-voicemail, pickup/hangup with or without alerting, etc. I have all incoming 1-800 numbers and unknown callers set to go straigt to voicemail, and when I encounter a pest like the autodialer you've described they get the pickup/hangup treatment.

Works great. I'm sure something similar will come out for the Pre soon, because people expect that functionality. I don't know if the iPhone has something like this, but if it doesn't, it should. This is a feature that should come standard on every smartfone.

more than 4 years ago

Submissions

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Can You Read Wikileaks In A Fascist Police State?

oliphaunt oliphaunt writes  |  about 4 years ago

oliphaunt (124016) writes "Zero Hedge makes the case that a pair of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions mean that the USA now has the necessary characteristics to be classified as a police state, which means you better stop reading wikileaks if you don't want to be disappeared to Guantanamo (or somewhere worse):

For example, if the Executive- in the form of the Secretary of State -decides that, say, WikiLeaks or Amnesty International is a terrorist organization, well then by golly, it is a terrorist organization. It no longer has any right to free speech — nor can anyone else speak to them or associate with them, for risk of being charged with providing "material support" to this heinous terrorist organization known as Amnesty International. But furthermore, as per Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, anyone associating with WikiLeaks — including, presumably, those who read it, and most certainly those who give it information about government abuses-- would be guilty of aiding and abetting terrorism.

"

Link to Original Source
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Crowdsourcing the Google Books Settlement

oliphaunt oliphaunt writes  |  more than 4 years ago

oliphaunt writes "The folks at NY Law have launched The Public Index to explore the proposed settlement agreement that would end all of the various class-action lawsuits that were filed to stop Google from scanning every book in the world. They've republished all the litigation documents and the proposed agreement, and they're inviting world + dog to post commentary. Even if you're not a lawyer, here's your chance to post a comment that might end up in a legal brief.

The Public Index is a project of the Public-Interest Book Search Initiative and the Institute for Information Law and Policy at New York Law School. We are a group of professors, students, and volunteers who believe that the Google Book Search lawsuit and settlement deserve a full, careful, and thoughtful public discussion. The Public Index is a site for people from all points of view to learn from each other about the settlement and join together to make their voices heard in the public debate.

"

Link to Original Source
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DOJ report on NSA wiretaps finally released

oliphaunt oliphaunt writes  |  about 5 years ago

oliphaunt writes "As regular readers will recall, after the 2004 elections the New York Times revealed that the NSA had been conducting illegal wiretaps of American citizens since early 2001. Over the course of the next four years, more information about the illegal program trickled out, leading to several lawsuits against the government and various officials involved in its implementation. This week several of these matters are coming to a head: Yesterday, the lawyers for the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation filed a motion for summary judgment in their lawsuit against the Obama DOJ. The motion begins by quoting a statement made by Candidate Obama in 2007, acknowledging that the warrantless wiretap program was illegal. US District Judge Vaughn Walker has given indications that he is increasingly skeptical of the government's arguments in this case. In what might just be a coincidence of timing, today the long-awaited report from the DOJ inspector general to the US Congress about the wiretapping program was declassified and released. Emptywheel has the beginnings of a working thread going here."
Link to Original Source
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3 Bagram Prisoners to Get Access To US Courts?

oliphaunt oliphaunt writes  |  more than 5 years ago

oliphaunt writes "Ok, this time I actually read the article instead of just pasting from the page. The venerable Lyle Dennitson over at SCOTUSblog has a short post up discussing a decision handed down by Judge John Bates of the D.C. District [federal] Court. Judge Bates's opinion says, in a nutshell, that the 2008 Boumediene v. Bush Supreme Court decision requires him to find that some of the people currently detained by the U.S. at Bagram Air Base have the right to Habeas Corpus hearings in U.S. federal courts. The Obama administration has so far defended the position staked out by the Bush admin, which was that the "enemy combatants" held at Guantanamo should have no access to U.S. courts. This is a big loss for the old Bush policy. Even though the Obama DOJ might still appeal, these cases could be the first step towards closing Bagram's prison and the prison at Guantanamo. From Lyle's post:

In one of the most significant sequels to the Supreme Court's ruling last June on the rights of terrorism suspects held by the U.S. military, a federal judge decided Thursday that the ruling protects the rights of at least some of the detainees the U.S. is holding at Bagram air base outside of Kabul, Afghanistan. . . . The decision is the most important setback in detainee matters so far for the new Obama Administration ...

"

Link to Original Source
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ACLU wins- no sexting charges for NJ teens

oliphaunt oliphaunt writes  |  more than 5 years ago

oliphaunt writes "The TIMES/TRIBUNE reports a New Jersey federal judge ordered the prosecutor not to file charges in the cases of three teen girls whose cell phones were confiscated:

Wyoming County District Attorney George Skumanick Jr. cannot charge three teenage girls who appeared in photographs seminude traded by classmates last year, a judge ruled Monday. U.S. District Judge James M. Munley granted a request by the American Civil Liberties Union to temporarily stop Mr. Skumanick from filing felony charges against the Tunkhannock Area School District students.

"

Link to Original Source
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Apple wins by favoring customers over carriers

oliphaunt oliphaunt writes  |  more than 5 years ago

oliphaunt writes "Here's an article from the Register about why the new version of the iPhone is so full of win: apple listened to the people instead of to the carriers.

For Apple, coming late to the phone business has actually been a huge advantage. The success of the iPhone is down not just to great engineering, but profiting from several years of desperate and outright stupid behaviour by the mobile phone networks, who set the terms for the manufacturers. The received wisdom of the industry — that you had to know the wiles of the mobile networks to succeed — turned out to be completely mistaken.

"

Link to Original Source
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Net Neutrality in the Federal Stimulus Package

oliphaunt oliphaunt writes  |  more than 5 years ago

oliphaunt writes "Barack Obama signed a $700 million stimulus package a few weeks ago, and the details are finally trickling out. The good news is, there is some language in the new law that promotes open access. The bad news is, the FCC gets to decide what "open access" actually means. Good news- that corrupt douchebag Kevin Martin is out, and Julius Genachowski is in, and Genachowski has been pro-NN in the past. But will he do the right thing now that he has the chance to set national policy?

The most recent development in the battle over web neutrality has appeared in an unlikely place, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan of 2009, also known as "the stimulus package". Buried within the bill, on pages 399-402, are provisions for grants to build out internet and wireless service in "unserved" areas of the country. Tied into these provisions are requirements that any newly developed networks operate on an "open access" basis. Coincidentally, "open access" is not defined in the bill, and since the role of the courts is to interpret legislation, any FCC definition of "open access" will be subject to the scrutiny of the courts. Although net neutrality proponents were hoping for more, they should not be disappointed in this development. It may seem like a small step, but it is some of the first language in passed legislation directly referring to net neutrality.

"

Link to Original Source
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Are business method patents finally dead?

oliphaunt oliphaunt writes  |  more than 5 years ago

oliphaunt writes "Here's a short story from Law.com about a stupid patent application that got the final smackdown this week, thanks to another application of the Federal Circuit's Bilski decision. The applicant here was trying to patent a very broad idea for a business method, but ...

The court [...] applied the test from Bilski: that a method or process has to be tied to a machine or transform an article to be patentable. The idea for a marketing company does neither, wrote Judge Arthur Gajarsa. "Although Applicants argue that the method claims are tied to the use of a shared marketing force, a marketing force is not a machine or apparatus,"

Have we finally seen the end of business method patents? Will the patent office continue to deny new claims like the 1-Click patent if they don't involve a "Machine or Transformation?""
Link to Original Source

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The CDA is dead, but will states try to revive it?

oliphaunt oliphaunt writes  |  more than 5 years ago

oliphaunt writes "This week at The Legality, Tracy Frazier has an article discussing the damage that can be done by anonymous online comments. While regulars here are familiar with infamous bits of net censorship like the Fishman Affidavit fiasco, and everyone has been an anonymous coward at least once or twice, some of you you may not know about the conflict between Heide Iravani and AutoAdmit.com. Heide eventually filed a lawsuit because the first result for a google search on her name brought up anonymous comments on AutoAdmit that accused her of carrying an STD and sleeping her way to the top of her class. The Communications Decency Act was supposed to prevent this kind of thing, but the Supreme Court killed it. Should the law be changed? Read on for the pros and cons..."
Link to Original Source
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teen sexting and the law

oliphaunt oliphaunt writes  |  more than 5 years ago

oliphaunt (124016) writes "This week, the Legality discusses the totally unpredictable discovery that teens are using cell phones to take racy pictures of themselves and send them to their friends.

Child pornography convicts are widely considered the lowliest offenders [...] But what if the victim is the same person as the photographer? A recent Pennsylvania case is turning heads for that very reason. Six teenagers at a Greensburg, Pa., high school were facing felony charges pertaining to manufacturing, disseminating, or possessing child pornography. Three of the defendants are girls, aged 14 to 15, who took semi-nude pictures of themselves and sent via cell phone them to their male classmates.

"

Link to Original Source
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FUD alert: Law.com warns on DANGERS!!! of OSS

oliphaunt oliphaunt writes  |  more than 5 years ago

oliphaunt writes "In this article from Law.com, William Venema tries to discuss the risk and reward associated with a business decision to adopt open source. And he makes a few fair points. But he shows his true FUD colors in the following paragraph: "The dangers inherent in open-source code are not only legal, however. The technical aspects of such code can also harbor risks for the enterprise. Although many open-source aficionados would disagree, many software experts claim that open-source code ... is more dangerous than proprietary source code ... because hackers can use the source code to find and exploit flaws." This claim is laughable on its face. Which "software experts" make this claim? Really, I'm curious. Is there any credible source still trying to claim that secret code is more secure and less error-prone than OSS?"
Link to Original Source
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FOIA: It's not just for the FBI X-Files

oliphaunt oliphaunt writes  |  more than 6 years ago

oliphaunt (124016) writes "(quoting heavily from TFA:) The John Yoo torture memos would never have been publicly released without the Freedom of Information Act.

FOIA has been used to obtain government information about everything from FBI information on pop culture icons (like Elvis and Frank Sinatra), to notorious criminals (such as Bonnie & Clyde and Al Capone), to famous scientists (like Einstein), and even paranormal activity (UFOs, Roswell, and ESP).

What exactly is this tool and how does it help the public acquire the necessary knowledge to participate effectively in democracy?"

Link to Original Source
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SeattlePostIntelligencer stands up to FBI

oliphaunt oliphaunt writes  |  more than 6 years ago

tekel (124016) writes "This post at RawStory caught my eye:

The alert issued by FBI agents in Seattle on Monday called for the public's help in identifying photographs of two Middle Eastern-looking men who had been reported travelling on ferries exhibiting "unusual behavior."
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer refused to run the photos, explaining:

"We have no confirmation that these men's behavior was anything but innocuous, and to forever taint them by associating them with terrorism under these circumstances is not consistent with our policy," the paper said.
Not consistent with the newspaper's policy, or, you know, the US Constitution, which guarantees freedom of the press from government interference and equal protection under the law for everyone in the United States.

The rest of my amateur legal analysis here."

Link to Original Source

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