Archive for June, 2005

Supreme Court okays taking personal property

Thursday, June 23rd, 2005

This is truly unbelieveable. The Supreme Court just voted 5-4 to allow taking residences by eminent domain to build offices. In opening the dissent, Sandra Day O’Connor wrote:

Over two centuries ago, just after the Bill of Rights was ratified, Justice Chase wrote:

“An ACT of the Legislature (for I cannot call it a law) contrary to the great first principles of the social compact, cannot be considered a rightful exercise of legislative authority . . . . A few instances will suffice to explain what I mean. . . . [A] law that takes property from A. and gives it to B: It is against all reason and justice, for a people to entrust a Legislature with SUCH powers; and, therefore, it cannot be presumed that they have done it.” Calder v. Bull, 3 Dall. 386, 388 (1798) (emphasis deleted).

Today the Court abandons this long-held, basic limitation on government power. Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be upgraded – i.e., given to an owner who will use it in a way that the legislature deems more beneficial to the public – in the process…

From the New York Times:

In a bitter dissent, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said the majority had created an ominous precedent. “The specter of condemnation hangs over all property,” she wrote. “Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory.”

“Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private property, but the fallout from this decision will not be random,” she wrote. “The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.

“As for the victims,” Justice O’Connor went on, “the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more. The Founders cannot have intended this perverse result.”

There is also surprisingly good discussion on Slashdot – High court OKs personal property seizures – Jun 23, 2005

Viewpoint Spyware

Monday, June 20th, 2005

I came in to work this morning and saw a window offering an “upgrade” to Viewpoint Toolbar on my screen. I definitely did not download this, and I don’t know how it got on my system. I clicked “No Thanks” and I hope it went away. Anybody know where it came from?

Update: Found out it probably came with AIM, which I installed to do video chat with my parents. I have now uninstalled. Anybody know a good free video chat client?

Viewpoint installed by AOL

Viewpoint… Transforming the way you view your world.

Cold water power

Wednesday, June 1st, 2005

An interesting article about generating power from the temperature differential in the ocean. Contains a couple of ideas new to me: the ocean is the worlds greatest solar power collector, the pump requires little energy because of the siphon effect, you get free air conditioning, you generate clean water just by capturing the condensation on the pipes, etc.

Wired 13.06: The Mad Genius from the Bottom of the Sea