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Ron Paul's Stance on Guns is Inconsistent, at Best

by RMD 7. December 2007 17:30

image Newsweek recently did an interview with Presidential candidate Ron Paul. Of all the Republicans, Ron Paul is certainly my favorite (although that's not saying much), but this interview made me like him just a little bit less.

Part of the interview dealt with gun control, something that Ron Paul is very much against. His position on gun control isn't why I like him less. It's that I don't see Ron Paul's stance on gun control as logically consistent.

In the interview, he suggests that virtually all "arms" should be allowed. When pressed, he says that if his neighbor were building a 500 pound bomb, then that would cross the line. His answers suggest that a 500 pound bomb should not be allowed because it can't be reasonably used for self defense.

But the Constitution says nothing about the 2nd Amendment being restricted for self defense only. It says: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

So Ron Paul's reason must be "extra-Constitutional". That's fine, but that's not logically consistent. If you oppose restrictions to the 2nd Amendment because they are not in the Constitution, why do you get to impose your own set of seemingly arbitrary restrictions simply because they seem reasonable to you? Last I checked, a 500 pound bomb would be very useful to a militia.

image Furthermore, the interviewer asks Ron Paul if machine guns are OK, and he says yes. So there is some a distinction between machine gun, which is OK as long as you don't threaten anybody, and a 500 pound bomb, which isn't OK no matter what. Why?

If we allow the non-Constitutional restriction of arms to defense related weapons only, then what about land minds? Those can be very useful for defense. Indeed, there are many examples of "defensive weapons" that most reasonable people would not want to be unregulated. Not only that, but the term "defense" is extremely ambiguous as well. After all, the best defense is a good offense, right?

Ron Paul's defense of the 2nd Amendment against restrictions is not consistent and includes seemingly arbitrary allowances and restrictions, just like the stance of gun control advocates.

I'm not advocating gun control, nor am I advocating no restrictions whatsoever. I'm just saying that your position should be consistent and unambiguous, especially if you're running for President.

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Politics

The Safest Way to Browse the Web: Firefox vs Internet Explorer

by RMD 1. December 2007 21:51

A little more than a year ago I made a prediction that I'm sure many people called crazy. I predicted that Firefox would, slowly but surely, become a less safe way to browse the web than Internet Explorer.

Well, it appears that my prediction may have been correct. According to an analysis by Microsoft's Jeff Jones, the number of vulnerabilities in Firefox was more than double those discovered in Internet Explorer.

Not only that, but the vulnerabilities that were discovered were, in general, worse for Firefox than that were for IE. In other words, there were a greater number of "critical" vulnerabilities in Firefox than in IE, as well as a greater number of "important" vulnerabilities.

I know many of you are immediately dismissing this analysis because it came from a Microsoft employee, but the report is based off public data. It's really just an aggregation of information that was published by non-Microsoft sources. Plus, many of you would dismiss it almost regardless of where it came from.

You're probably also thinking that Microsoft is hiding vulnerabilities from the public or patching them silently, a tactic that would be almost impossible for the open source Firefox. But you would be making unsupported assertions that I've already addressed.

Now, I can't really say that my prediction has come true. I actually predicted the attacks on Firefox would increase as IE7 on Vista started to gain market share. IE7 on Vista has indeed started to gain market share, and at the same time we've been seeing a dramatic increase in the number of exploits discovered in Firefox. This, of course, doesn't show a causal relationship.

While Firefox's market share gains have basically stopped, it does hold a solid 10%+. This means that security researchers are more interested in it, and therefore will look at it more closely. This could explain the huge increase in discovered vulnerabilities.

Regardless, it seems clear now that Firefox is not as secure as everybody thought. It is now a viable and almost certainly popular attack vector for bad guys.

IE7 on Vista, meanwhile, has not had a single remotely exploitable hole that could cause a security breach. There has been at least one DoS attack (crashed the browser), but nobody has defeated Protected Mode yet. IE7 on Vista has been on the market for over a year now, and it hasn't been cracked.

I'd say that's pretty damn strong evidence that the safest way to browse the web is no longer Firefox.

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General Computing