Archive for the Law & Politics Category

No Food Stamps for Millionaires

Posted in Economy, Law & Politics on December 1, 2011 by Mike Procario

From the NY Times

Senate Republican leaders would go after “millionaires and billionaires,” not by raising their taxes but by making them ineligible for unemployment compensation and food stamps and increasing their Medicare premiums.

Your Congress at work, awe inspiring isn’t it?


Nice Article On the Presidents’ Requested Science Funding

Posted in Law & Politics, physics on February 5, 2008 by Mike Procario

There is a nice article in the New York Times on the requested science funding in the President’s recently submitted budget. It discusses both the relatively high levels of funding requested and the difficultly that recent similar requests have had getting through Congress.

Protecting Privacy

Posted in Law & Politics, Technology and Software on September 11, 2006 by Mike Procario

I read Robert Scoble’s blog regularly. I enjoy hearing about new technology, but I almost never blog about it. Today there was a post on why he has been so critical of HP spying on its board of directors.

So, why did I care that HP’s board of directors pushed the boundary of where private information could be used? Because private data must be held sacrosanct. Private data is an electric rail. Use it properly and it will power your business. Use it improperly and you should get fired. There’s no other way to put it. It should be that clear. It IS an electric rail.

Protecting privacy has to be done multiple fronts. Legislation can help, but public scrutiny can respond faster when companies violate privacy.

Should Juries Be Ignorant?

Posted in Law & Politics on May 1, 2006 by Mike Procario

I read in the Washington Post today that jurors can get in trouble for looking up the meaning of words. In the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, a juror asked for a dictionary. 

So far, the jury has asked only one question, requesting a dictionary. U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema denied the request, saying it would be equivalent to placing extraneous evidence in the jury room. She also warned jurors against conducting their own research, including looking up words.

Everything that I know about trial procedures and juries I learned from Law and Order, so I am in no way an expert on this. I do find the quote disturbing. Trials appear to present two opposing and biased points of view and then ask jurors to reconcile these points of view without reference to anything but what they were presented.

I know that the legal system tries to protect jurors from prejudical information, but this appears to me to be too controlling. Jurors bring a lot of knowledge into the jury room. You cannot control that unless you only select the least informed and unintelligent jurors possible.

As a scientist this strikes me as backwards. You should seek out as much information as possible. Evaluate the quality of the information. Is it reliable? Is it biased? Is it consistent?

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