Friday, May 12, 2006

Fourth Amendment saved by USA Today?

(Warning...I am about to get un-Buddhist on you...If you think you will be offended, that's ok. Read on.)
Come-'on people when even USA Today becomes part of the "outraged liberal press," you've got to know something so obvious and beyond the bounds of reason must be going on in our government. Look, these guys are no Washington Post or NYTimes. The last time I stumbled over a USA Today it was in front of my hotel door and the lead story was about people who lose their jobs because they refuse to fly issue for a few people, but not earth shattering news...Now even they have discovered the NSA program.
The message..."GET OFF YOUR BUM, AMERICA! and STOP the MADNESS!"
Do people realize that phone records are used as court evidence all the time to establish patterns of activity and connections to others? Now, the government has our phone records without ever petitioning for a warrant.
This activity is not within the bounds of the Fourth Amendment: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons...and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures...and no Warrants shall issue except upon probable cause." There is no probable cause here, the search is not specific to a criminal act or civil violation. I don't care that they may not be viewing the content of my communication. I do not give my government permission to view who I am calling or when. And so far as I know, I have not surrendered my freedom or heard my Miranda rights read to me. As someone who understands the capabilities of data mining, I know well that plenty can be construed by my phone record without seeing the content of the calls.
Can someone please tell Mr. Bush that "executive privilege" really means he is privileged to serve at the pleasure of the citizens of the United States? (I quote U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 9, "No Title of Nobility shall be granted..."). And can someone please also inform the Democrats that they cannot run away from their responsibility to govern, using their minority status as an excuse. Maybe we could remind them that the core of all that is American is the triumph of the minority over its oppressor(s).
No kidding, all this, inspired by a USA Today article. Go figure.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

In answer to your question, Satya...

Space is the nickname we use for everything beyond our Earth's atmosphere. It is a good nickname because there is lot of it and it seems relatively empty from our point of view. Doesn't it look like there is a bunch of "space" between the stars in the sky? Don't we know there is a long distance or a lot of space between Earth and other planets, Earth and the Sun or our Solar System and other star systems?

The longer correct name for space depends on where in "space" you are talking about. "Interplanetary space" means the area of space within our solar system, roughly speaking the area from the Sun, in the middle, out to Pluto. Everything beyond Interplanetary space is correctly called "Outer space." (If you imagine your room, where your planets and stars are on the wall as the solar system, it may be easier to imagine the rest of our house as "outer space.")

In one way, space is empty. There is none of the air we need to breathe in space. In many other ways, space is full. There are organic molecules, blackbody radiation left over from the birth of the Universe, gas, plasma, dust, small meteors and space junk -- left over spaceships and trash from astronauts and satellites.