Author Archives: Chris Byrne

A funny thing happened on the way to the TV

So I’m getting ready to make dinner, and one of my favorite ’80s teen romps comes on, Summer School. It’s a pretty baaaad movie, but there were some great moments, mostly provided by the dialogue of one Francis “Chainsaw” Gremp, A.K.A. Dean Cameron.

Actually the movie has quite a lot of actors who actually had carreers, like Mark Harmon, Courtney Thorne Smith, Patrick Labyorteaux, and the aforementioned Cameron.

He’s also one of Sean Penns best friends; but I’ll try not to hold that against him too much; since he’s a hardcore libertarian, and has spoken at the last two national conventions (not a Big “L” libertarian here, but hey, it’s better than being a liberal).

So anyway, I do my normal thing and browse through the bios of the actors on IMDB, and I notice this: “Is the inventor of the Bill of Rights: Security Edition cards”

Huh… think I need to check these out… So I hit the website and see these:

What is the “Bill of Rights – Security Edition” ?

The Bill of Rights: The First Ten Amendments to the constitution of the United States printed on sturdy, pocket-sized, pieces of metal.

The next time you travel by air, take the Bill of Rights – Security Edition along with you. When asked to empty your pockets, proudly toss the Bill of Rights in the plastic bin.

You need to get used to offering up the bill of rights for inspection and government workers enforcing the USAPATRIOT ACT need to get used to deciding if you’ll be allowed to keep the Bill of Rights with you when you travel”

Flipping Brilliant!!!!

I bought the five pack, and I’m sending them to certain selected friends. Frequent travellers who can appreciate the sentiment, and dont mind pissing off the TSA.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

It’s NOT about RACE

A frequent canard of black activists, liberal advocates, “justice” advocates etc… is that there are “sentencing disparities between powder and crack cocaine”; followed of course by “Clearly because crack is seen as a black drug, these harsher sentences must be racially motivated”.

It is repeated so often that even some responsible conservatives (and a LOT of libertarians)who really should know better, think there is something there.

Only it’s not true. In fact it’s not even the slightest bit true.

It’s not about race; it’s about power, and control.

It is all predicated on a technical detail, that isoften overlooked; and that most don’t understand even if they see it.

See, most people think you should sentence people based on the amount of drugs they have or are trying to sell etc… Which makes sense to a degree. Most people further assume that this amount is based on the number of doses of the drug. This is just intuitive on most folks part; because they think of “one pill, one dose” etc…

Here’s the problem though; in this country, drug related sentencing is generally calculated based on the weight of the drug INCLUDING THE CARRIER; not by the dose.

By that I mean, the actual active ingredient of the drug is generally only a small part of the weight they charge you on, because the weight of all the inactive ingredients is counted as well.

If I mixed 7 grams of cocaine into 1 oz of baking soda, 1 oz of milk sugar; I would be charged as if I had 63 grams of cocaine (which would be a minimum 10 year sentence); even though there is only 7 grams of actual cocaine there.

So why are sentences for crack “so much higher” in comparison to powder?

Crack actually contains a relatively small amount of cocaine by weight, vs. powder cocaine, and the sentencing laws ONLY CONSIDER WEIGHT.

A person with a gram of coke, has maybe 4-6 doses (less for a heavy user); and 1-2 grams would be a typical days usage for a habitual user; with up to about 5 grams for the most serious users (Richard Pryor level).

A person with a 1 gram dime rock of crack cocaine has only about 1/8th to 1/4 gram of actual cocaine in it (there isn’t a lot of consistency in dosage). A crack user will go through anywhere from 5 nickle rocks (1/16th to 1/8th gram of coke) to 10 solid rocks (a $20 2 gram or so rock with between 1/4 and 1/2 gram of actual coke) in a day (from $25 to $200) depending on how much they can buy; and how much tolerance they have built up (10 solid rocks in a day would probably kill a new user)

Thats as little 5/16 of a gram of coke, to maybe 5 grams; about the same as a days use of powder cocaine; but the total weight is from 2.5 to 20 grams.

The sentence is calculated on the total weight, therefore one days worth of crack is counted as anywhere from 2.5-20 times as much drug as one days worth of powder.

And you are sentenced as if you have 2.5 to 20 times as much of the drug.

Of course this doesnt just apply to cocaine.

No-one ever talks about sentencing disparity in LSD, which typicaly has a dosage of less 25 to 50 micrograms, which is one 2000th of a gram in weight; but which is often absorbed into tablets or a piece of heavy paper that may weigh more than a gram.

This means that someone who has five doses of LSD in 1 gram tablets is charged as if they had several hundred, to several thousand doses.

There are dozens of hippies serving 25 to life in prison right now for selling as little as 5 doses of LSD to DEA and FBI agents.

Then theres MDMA, which has the same issue.

It’s not about race; it’s about inflating the numbers of the drug enforcement agencies; and inflating the records of district attorneys. It’s about power, money, and control; pure and simple.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Annoy, Abuse, Threaten or Harass

“Whoever…utilizes any device or software that can be used to originate telecommunications or other types of communications that are transmitted, in whole or in part, by the Internet… without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person…who receives the communications…shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.”

My god, how will usenet or blogs function when everyone is in prison?

Yes folks, congress has tried to make being anonymously annoying on the internet illegal.

In particular, Arlen Specter (who seems to truly hate the internet and electronic world in general given other bullshit he has sponsored before) re-wrote the language and included it in the “Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005”, a must pass bill that provided funding for the justice department to continue operating.

Specter is also one of the senators (along with Fritz Hollings) who keeps trying to insert broadcast flag, and other DRM or copyright legislation into unrelated bills etc…; thus my saying he must really hate the internet.

The gist of it is simple. They took an existing anti-telephone harassment law, and re-wrote it to cover the internet directly, without changing the wording

Except there’s a problem with that, the internet and the telephone, while both networks; are entirely different in nature; and are not, and can not be subject to the same type of rules, regulations, or management paradigms.

Oh, and this is a problem in conception that business people have had for almost three decades now, so it’s only fitting that lawmakers will catch up.

The telephone is a unicast medium. It involves a point to point communication that must be acknowledged or significant damage to ones life or business will result. The internet is a broadcast medium (with regards to communication of ideas or speach anyway).

Effectively the internet AS A WHOLE is a public space (with private spaces connected to it, and a huge number of idiots who don’t seem to understand the difference); and annoying speach in public is generally allowed, so long as that speach is not disturgbing the peace.

Well, how is something disturbing the public peace if you have to open a door and walk into a room to hear it? No matter how load and annoying it is, the sound cant leave the room you have deliberately entered of your own choice.

Not only that, but ones own sites, whether they are publicly accessible or not, ARE EFFECTIVELY PRIVATE SPACES, and annoying speach is ALWAYS allowed in your private spaces; unless that annoyance becomes harrassment.

The fact is, you jsut can’t make annoying speach a crime. If I were forcing you to listen to it; yeah that’d be a crime; but just posting annoying speach, or even sending annoying emails (though that is a much grayer area, especialy as regards inboxes and other explicit infospaces, expectation of privacy, and ownership of virtual spaces, but that’s another discussion entirely) can never be a crime.

The good news is, there is no way this provision will stand. Case law is already against it, and the ACLU will do one of it’s rare good deeds and make sure this gets challenged and struck down right away.

The congresscritters just better hope they made the damn thing severable or the supremes will have to invalidate the entire bill.

Cross posted from The AnarchAngel

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Massachusetts Attempts to Ban All Firearms

ALERT TO MASSACHUSETTS READERS: Move, Now, before they ban breathing and eating without a license.

Seriously, this is quite possibly the worst piece of legislation I’ve ever read in my entire life:

http://www.mass.gov/legis/bills/house/ht02/ht02125.htm

Yes, they want complete registration of ALL firearms, and compulsory liability insurance for all firearms, with a $250,000 minimum liability limit, failure to comply punishible by mandatory five years in prison!

Additionally, all handgun licenses will be reviewed by a 9 member board before issuance, and this is the great part, look at how they want to construct the board:

“The board shall consist of nine individuals, one of whom shall be a member of the gun owners action league, one of whom shall be a member of stop handgun violence, one of whom shall be a police chief selected from a list of four selected by the police chiefs association, one of whom shall be a district attorney selected from a list of three selected by the district attorney’s association, and one of whom shall be the director of the firearms records bureau within the criminal history systems board.”

I see… so suddenly a representative from an anti-gun political action organization is qualified to judge the competency and safety of applicants?

Who wrote this, Sarah Brady (well… that’s entirely possible).

Lets see reading further on, a one firearm a month hard limit (it’s a practical limit now since you need a permit to purchase each individual firearm unless you have an unrestricted license which they almost never give out).

Ahhhh, but here’s the kicker:

“All weapons as defined in section 121 including, but not limited to, firearms, large capacity weapons, rifles and shotguns sold within the commonwealth without a safety device designed to prevent the discharge of such weapon by unauthorized users and approved by the colonel of the state police including, but no limited to, mechanical locks or devices designed to recognize and authorize, or otherwise allow the firearm to be discharged by its owner or authorized user, by solenoid use-limitation devices, key activated or combination trigger or handle locks, radio frequency tags, automated fingerprint identification systems or voice recognition, provided, that such device is commercially available, shall be defective and the sale of such weapons shall constitute a breach of warranty under section 2-314 of chapter 106 and an unfair and deceptive trade act or practice under section 2 of chapter 93A.”

Ahh yes, all weapons not smart guns are hereby declared defective and unsafe and are now banned; oh and anyone who’s ever manufactured and sold one can now be sued.

Yes folks, it’s an effective ban on all firearms within the commonpoverty of taxachusetts.

Oh and for a final kick, anyone not a licensed FFL selling or otherwise transmore than two firearms in a 12 month period – no matter who they are sold to, lawfully or not – is mandatorily sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison without parole.

Honestly, I am not capable of editorializing this in an adequately derisory way without resorting to excessive vulgarity, therefore I will leave the spluttering and descending red curtains of blood to my gentle readers.

Crossposted from : The AnarchAngel

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Public and Private Information

Fuz posits the following:

What if two vehicles are hustling along a rural road, doing low-80s in a 75-limit zone, and a Highway Patrol vehicle comes from the opposite direction, suddenly pulls over, reverses direction, and catches up?

The patrol car hovers behind the rear of the two vehicles for about 4 minutes, then passes, hovers behind the front-runner for a few minutes, then lights up and pulls the front-runner over?

Mama-san, passenger with me in the rear vehicle, asks “Why didn’t he just pull the guy over instead of waiting so long?”

I, driver of the rear vehicle, replied “He ran the plates.”

“Wouldn’t he do that after pulling him over?”

“No, he wants to make sure he’s not pulling over some psycho who’ll try to shoot him. He wants to know whether this will be a one-unit stop, or a two- or three-unit. A bench warrant, multiple traffic violations, expired registration, Al Qaeda, you name it. Run the plates first, know what you’re getting into.”

Then the wheels were turning. He surely ran our plates too. Hmmmm, the patrolman was probably thinking, serviceman and his wife and kiddies. Nothing interesting here . . . The guy in the front tripped the radar. What about him?

Which makes me wonder: how many times have my plates been run, either by obviously marked patrol vehicles or air units or by unmarked just weaving through busy traffic? What about when optical-character recognition technology is mated with radar camera units and fast, fast realtime connection to the databases, allowing hundreds of plates to be “run” per minute? The potential there for loss of privacy would be staggering. The anonymity of the herd would be gone if it isn’t already. The consequences of minor errors, either in the tag records themselves or in the data pipeline between the camera and the DMV, would be enormous.

Johnny Law will assert that he has the power to use government-owned information and commercially-available technology to enhance the apprehension of lawbreakers. How can one object, unless one is caught redhanded and wriggling to escape? The syllogism: the innocent have nothing to fear, therefore the fearful are not innocent.

So how should the civil libertarian respond to this development?

As unfortunate as this is, there is no rational libertarian argument against the actions of the officer as laws currently stand.

License plates are the property of the state. By affixing them to your vehicle, and operating it on the public roads, you are implicitly giving the state the authority to view these plates and to access the public records associated with them. You are a walking, or driving, public record background check. An open book.

Now as to whether this data can be collected and indefinitely retained for criminal investigation, surveillance, or profiling purposes, that’s another question entirely. When it comes to handling individuals who have committed crimes, it is important that officers or employers are properly checking criminal records, as this could make a difference in getting the right convictions.

Numerous times, in many courts, the argument has been presented that an officer could not arrest someone, because they had no probable cause to run the plates which resulted in a warrant hit and subsequent traffic stop. In all cases these arguments have been dismissed because the plate number is indeed public information; as is your vehicle registration, and any number of other records that many individuals assume to be private.

I had a similar incident happen just the other day. I was driving home just above the speed limit, when a super trooper got up close enough to me to read my plate, then backed off for about 2 minutes, then accelerated and passed me by. My fiancee seated next to me wondered about his behavior and I said “He was running the plate”, to which she responded, “Well, it’s not like we’ve got anything to worry about”.

That reminded me of something that happened to me a few years back. I was driving just at the limit when a local cop pulled in behind me for about five minutes, ran my plates, and then pulled me over. Unbeknownst to me, I had a bench warrant for an unpaid ticket. When I asked the officer why he ran my plate, he answered with refreshing honesty “Because I had nothing better to do”.

This is a basic principle of law, in that public information can be used for any purpose not specifically prohibited by law; and that includes vehicle registration, driving records, birth, death, and marriage records, certain tax and travel records… I could go on.

So what they are doing is in no way illegal, or unconstitutional. The question is, SHOULD IT BE specifically prohibited by law?

Honestly, with the current regulatory regime we live under in our society, this is a perfectly justifiable and correct use of information.

But there is no question that it makes us less free; and that, by it’s nature is evil.

The only way to rationally address this is to make these records non-public information. Either through the elimination of the records entirely (an unlikely, and in some ways unwise thing), or by the re-classification of many public records, as private.

I see no reason why my driving records, vehicle registrations, accident record, or any number of other records as I describe above SHOULD be public records; except as an instrument of governmental control. What’s even crazier is that, through sites such as BackgroundChecks.org, you can get background checks on anybody in particular and view some of their public records. Perhaps all of these, and any other record the government (or anyone else) keeps on us, whatever few those can be reduced to in a practical society (and that’s another issue altogether), should be treated as is our PHI/PCI (Private Healthcare Information/ Private and Confidential Information) wherein the use of the records must at all times require either a court order, or the consent of the subject or legal custodian of those records.

It would of course complicate matters greatly as regards law enforcement, but in the presence of a pervasive computing environment (which is not far off), it could certainly be technically possible.

It would be an easy re-write of the laws, and a massive policy and infrastructure undertaking; but no more so than the HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley requirements that have been recently promulgated on business.

I think that this is the most likely, and most reasonable compromise position; Al-Quaeda or no.

H/T: Jed at Freedomsight

Reposted from The Anarchangel

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

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