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Home Science Under Attack In Massachusetts 1334

Posted by kdawson
from the and-the-yellow-phthalate-too dept.
An anonymous reader tips a guest posting up on the MAKE Magazine blog by the author of the Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments. It seems that authorities in Massachusetts have raided a home chemistry lab, apparently without a warrant, and made off with all of its contents. Here's the local article from the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. "Victor Deeb, a retired chemist who lives in Marlboro, has finally been allowed to return to his Fremont Street home, after Massachusetts authorities spent three days ransacking his basement lab and making off with its contents. Deeb is not accused of making methamphetamine or other illegal drugs. He's not accused of aiding terrorists, synthesizing explosives, nor even of making illegal fireworks. Deeb fell afoul of the Massachusetts authorities for... doing experiments... Pamela Wilderman, the code enforcement officer for [the Massachusetts town of] Marlboro stated, 'I think Mr. Deeb has crossed a line somewhere. This is not what we would consider to be a customary home occupation.' Allow me to translate Ms. Wilderman's words into plain English: 'Mr. Deeb hasn't actually violated any law or regulation that I can find, but I don't like what he's doing because I'm ignorant and irrationally afraid of chemicals, so I'll abuse my power to steal his property and shut him down.'"
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Home Science Under Attack In Massachusetts

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  • And they say ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by slashdotlurker (1113853) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:14PM (#24571835)
    ... that something is wrong with Kansas ?
    These hyper-red and hyper-blue states both have issues with people. The former set of control freaks try to make you a religion borg while the latter set of control freaks try their hand making you a state-uber-alles borg.
  • Typical (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lastchance_000 (847415) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:14PM (#24571857)

    Sounds like the actions of typical small-minded, small-town bureaucrats who are skilled mainly in keeping and expanding their power.

  • by fractalus (322043) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:15PM (#24571859) Homepage

    This is what the environment of hysteria is doing to the US.

    Who exactly is terrorizing us these days? Seems like our "elected officials" just want us to be scared all the time so we won't really think about what's going on.

  • Call the FBI? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bryansix (761547) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:15PM (#24571861) Homepage
    SO call the FBI and complain that the local police entered and arrested you without a warrant. Call the local and national media. Make a big stink about it. Start a website. The Massachusetts police are morons and they need to be put in their place.
  • Chemicals (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jmpeax (936370) * on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:15PM (#24571877)
    While I agree that this seems rather overzealous on the part of authorities, the original article [telegram.com] mentions something that may be fair:

    There are regulations about how much [of various chemicals] you're supposed to have, how it's detained, how it's disposed of.

    Depending on the specifics of what this guy's dealing with, he may be subject to rules regarding the safe disposal of certain chemicals, etc.

  • How Dismal (Score:4, Insightful)

    by clang_jangle (975789) * on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:16PM (#24571891) Journal
    I wonder how long before people in possession of scary "hacking software and equipment" are subjected to similar intrusions? Welcome to the NewUSA, where all knowledge is classified.
  • by WrongMonkey (1027334) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:17PM (#24571907)
    If you have enough laws, then anyone is a criminal. They'll either claim its a violation of zoning ordinances, environmental hazard or an OSHA violation.
  • Police State (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CranberryKing (776846) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:17PM (#24571909)
    This is where we are going. The government is fostering the notion to the police that they have absolute discretion & power. Can you find the limited government here?.. Neither can I.
  • by ceswiedler (165311) * <chris@swiedler.org> on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:17PM (#24571919)

    From TFA:

    "Mr. Deeb's home lab likely violated the regulations of many state and local departments, although officials have not yet announced any penalties."

    If they discovered that you were keeping 200 cats in your home under extremely unsanitary conditions, they would do the same thing: move all of the cats to a shelter somewhere, and charge you with violating local health regulations once they had assessed the entire situation. I think it's a little bit of a kneejerk reaction to say that they're "ignorantly and irrationally afraid of chemicals" and "abus[ing] power to steal his property".

    Would you rather they just ask him "hey, is any of this dangerous?" and leave when he says "no"? There are reasons why we regulate stuff like chemicals (you have to have a permit just to own / use some professional beauty products), and if he wasn't following whatever the local regulations were, then it's his fault.

    Now, if it turns out he was indeed following all local / state laws, then the authorities certainly owe him an apology at least.

  • Re:Chemicals (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bryansix (761547) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:17PM (#24571925) Homepage
    Yes, but you usually get a warrant before you bust into someone's house.
  • I miss freedom (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Attackinghobo (1212112) * on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:18PM (#24571931)
    Don't you?
  • by Mononoke (88668) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:20PM (#24571949) Homepage Journal

    Is how they knew he had chemicals in his basement in the first place...

    RTFA.

  • by richardellisjr (584919) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:20PM (#24571951)
    I'm an agnostic in a very red state (texas) and I can honestly say I can't remember anyone here ever trying to "convert me".
  • Massachusetts... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EEBaum (520514) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:20PM (#24571967) Homepage
    Probably thought he was developing a new kind of hoax device [wikipedia.org].
  • Proper Property (Score:3, Insightful)

    by delire (809063) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:21PM (#24572003)

    This is not what we would consider to be a customary home occupation.

    Since when has there existed a reference standard for how people should live in their own homes? Who's home is it, his or the State's?

    How many posts would it take for someone to use the word 'totalitarian', I wonder, were this story to have originated from a Communist country?

  • Zoning gone wild. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by twitter (104583) * on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:22PM (#24572019) Homepage Journal

    When the officer says, "This is not what we would consider to be a customary home occupation," he's implying a zoning violation. It can be answered with, "This is not what we consider to be a customary neighborhood nuisance." Zoning laws should protect people from things like junk yards, car dealerships and noisy manufacturing. Going after this man is a stretch of those intentions.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:22PM (#24572023) Homepage

    The key difference here is that in the cat example they can point
    to an obvious and clear reason that could be put on a WARRANT or
    used as PROBABLE CAUSE.

    No such thing exists here.

    Were there even any complaining neighbors?

    Even something as trivial as "a strange odor" reported by one
    of the neighbors to local police would have been enough to
    start the ball rolling correctly here.

    Put your ducks in a row.

    It's like FISA. Everyone in government is getting used to the
    idea that they don't have to obey their own rules anymore.

  • Re:Call the FBI? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Qzukk (229616) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:23PM (#24572049) Journal

    What's the FBI going to do, laugh? The feds use the exact same tactic [treas.gov], under the guise of "Civil Forfeiture".

    People don't care, because the government tells them that it is only used against drug dealers and terrorists, not that such allegations generally get proven beyond the assertion that "the guy must be one or else we wouldn't have taken his car/money/chemistry set".

  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:24PM (#24572059) Homepage
    There used to be american kids studying home chemistry. We used to have kits to build rockets.

    Now, a bunch of silly fools that never took chemistry even in college are doing their best to outlaw what every intelligent child in the 60s and 70s did for fun.

    As a result, the US has not been doing groundbreaking chemistry in over a decade.

    Granted, computers are a big lure, but chemistry is the basis of our industry. We need to ENCOURAGE kids and adults to do chemistry, not prevent it with idiotic, foolish laws.

    If it is not more dangerous than fertilizer and diesel fuel, or styrofoam and gasoline, than it should be legal for a 16 year old kid to buy in the mail, without a license.

    Anythinge else is rank hipocracy and stupidity.

    P.S. I am not recommending a 12 year old do explosive experiments unsupervised, but I hate to tell you, THEY DO IT ANYWAY. They just go and get an aerosole can and a lighter, instead of ordering a kit.

  • by DanWS6 (1248650) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:24PM (#24572079)
    i[Now, if it turns out he was indeed following all local / state laws, then the authorities certainly owe him an apology at least.]i

    Yeah, I bet they will slap their wrists and say they are very very sorry and it'll never happen again too.

    I have a computer. One of those new fancy technology machines that store "files" on it. The local cops should come take it because I may or may not have "illegal" files on it. Once they analyze it they should possibly give it back depending on how they feel. Or they could just keep it. Oh they should also do this without obtaining one of those pesky warrant things. That will help save them time. It won't bother me at all because it's not an invasion of my privacy if it keeps the world safe from evil.
  • by keytoe (91531) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:26PM (#24572107) Homepage
    That's all well and good - and I have no problem with that. It's the lack of any due process (eg, getting a warrant) that is troubling in this case.
  • by imsabbel (611519) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:26PM (#24572115)

    Strange matters of viewpoint.
    When you said "thats not hyperbole", i though:"Omg. There are really nutcases around that are allowed to store gunpower poundwise in their garage?!".

  • Re:Chemicals (Score:1, Insightful)

    by jc42 (318812) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:28PM (#24572165) Homepage Journal

    [Y]ou usually get a warrant before you bust into someone's house.

    Correction: You used to get a warrant before you bust into someone's house.

    For about 7 years now, that has no longer been necessary in the US. The authorities (at any level) can just chant "terrorists", and that gives them permission to go anywhere, and do anything with the people and things they find there.

  • by Seakip18 (1106315) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:30PM (#24572183) Journal

    If we went by rule of law, every SINGLE house in America would violate at LEAST one local, county, state or federal regulation, code, law, etc.

    Per your post, how many cats is enough to make it enough too much? I know you would create an unsanitary condition, just when is the judgment call made to do so?

    I'm not even going to get into warrant less entry and search.

  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:30PM (#24572195) Homepage

    This is not what we would consider to be a customary home occupation.

    I find it troubling that hobbyists are less trusted than corporations (assuming that these same experiments, performed by a corporation, would pose no problem - which I think the above quote pretty clearly implies). First, it is a really stupid idea from the American economy standpoint - we've made a lot of hay in this country's history on garage hackers (think: personal computer, for example). Second, what exactly makes corporations (which are made up of individuals) more trustworthy than non-corporate individuals? Timothy McVeigh? USAMRIID Anthrax. This is utterly stupid, and clearly the result of a panic'd mind more concerned with a pretense of safety than with the success of this great nation.

  • Re:Call the FBI? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bryansix (761547) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:30PM (#24572203) Homepage

    Civil forfeitures are in rem. In rem refers to a legal action directed solely against the property based on a legal finding that the property itself is used in an illegal manner.

    The point is a court decided that the forfeiture was deemed acceptable. In this case no court heard the case that I'm aware of.

  • by Z00L00K (682162) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:31PM (#24572213) Homepage

    We all do chemistry on a daily basis, the difference is that we usually don't do it as our daily plan. Brush your teeth, take a bath and even breathing. Cooking is actually an advanced version of chemistry.

    The area of chemistry is so wide that it's in no way possible to ban it all. And some people are stupid enough to think that it's dangerous to create huge soap bubbles or analyze the water yourself.

  • Re:Call the FBI? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by richardellisjr (584919) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:32PM (#24572251)

    The article doesn't say anything about him being arrested, just that the police were called and a hazmat team was called. From the article it doesn't sound like he was arrested at all just told to stay in a hotel until the cleanup is done.

    As for confiscation of his chemicals, it sounds like he had way more chemicals than he should need, and wasn't storing them properly. TFA also says that some were potentially explosive and doesn't mention his qualifications.

    Now a lot of people here will be screaming because his property was taken but keep in mind that no illegal search was made (the chemicals were found during an unrelated fire by the fire department), his housing area wasn't zoned for this (do they actually zone housing areas for chemical work?), some of the chemicals were potentially explosive, he had lots of chemicals some in large quantities, he wasn't arrested just asked to leave during the cleanup, his qualifications sound like a hobbyist not a professional.

    I don't know about you but I'm not sure I'd want a hobbyist with an extremely large amount of potentially explosive material (stored improperly) doing "experiments" next door to me and my family.

  • by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:32PM (#24572259)

    Just a WAG, but might the firefighters need to shut off the electrical power before squirting water all over the 2nd floor A/C? Especially if it was an electrical fire...

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:34PM (#24572301)
    Computers also have stupid laws restricting them. What is a better way to teach kids about P2P? Either have them A) Learn about it or B) download from TPB and they will learn that way.
  • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:34PM (#24572303) Journal

    Now, how is a fascist state supposed to function if people like this guy come along and teach people how to do for themselves? Fascist states need strong corporations, and strong corporations need helpless consumers. This guy is anti-American, and the cops knew it.

    How did they know? They felt it in their gut.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:35PM (#24572307) Homepage

    Honestly the only solution to the Hyper red and Hyper blue is to shine a lot of Hyper white light on them. These "security and Fraidycat freaks go scattering when they have a bright light shining on them.

    I really hope someone uncovers Pamela Wilderman personal information and posts it so that everyone here can voice their concerns to her on her home phone, email, work phone, cellphone as well as other Police officials that did not right away reprimand her and fire her for home invasion.

  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:35PM (#24572317) Homepage
    First, they investigated based on the fact that they thought anyone with that much stuff LIKELY violated the law.

    In other words, they don't know a law he violated, they just knew that we have lots of laws and they disliked what he did so they investigated.

    They even CONFISCATED STUFF without yet finding any real law breakage. How would you like it if someone said, you know your car is full of tons of dangerous explosives, then they confiscate and say "We likely think we MIGHT find something illegal on it."

    Would you be satisified if they returned it three days later? Would you be satisfied if they returned MOST of it 3 days later, but kept parts of it saying "We haven't definitely found anything illegal yet, but we want to keep looking?"

    A reasonable response would have been to let the police look around for ONE HOUR. If they want to take stuff, or even stay for more than one hour, they should have got a warrant.

    There are a ton of 'not really laws'. that the government does not enforce unless they dislike you. I won't bother to mention the president and his little "arrested but not charged for cocaine" thing.

    I WILL bother to mention the fact that large chemical companies ROUTINELY break the law and no one does anything about it. They get a pass from an inspector after a promise of "we'll fix it later".

    The citizen was trying to be nice and proove he did nothing wrong. I'm sure he expected a quick once over and nothing. He knew he was doing nothing seriously wrong.

    But instead he got shafted by a stupid government

  • by Chyeld (713439) <chyeld&gmail,com> on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:36PM (#24572327)

    Firefighters found more than 1,500 vials, jars, cans, bottles and boxes in the basement Tuesday afternoon, after they responded to an unrelated fire in an air conditioner on the second floor of the home.

    Vessels of chemicals were all over the furniture and the floor, authorities said. The ensuing investigation involved a state hazardous materials team, fire and police officials, health officials, environmental officials and code enforcement officials. The Deebs were told to stay in a hotel while the slew of officials investigated and emptied the basement.

    Pamela A. Wilderman, Marlboro's code enforcement officer, said Mr. Deeb was doing scientific research and development in a residential area, which is a violation of zoning laws.

    "It is a residential home in a residential neighborhood," she said. "This is Mr. Deeb's hobby. He's still got bunches of ideas. I think Mr. Deeb has crossed a line somewhere. This is not what we would consider to be a customary home occupation. ... There are regulations about how much you're supposed to have, how it's detained, how it's disposed of."

    Mr. Deeb's home lab likely violated the regulations of many state and local departments, although officials have not yet announced any penalties.

    "He's been very cooperative," Ms. Wilderman said. "I won't be citing him for anything right at this moment."
     

    Really, the above is a bit far from the inflamitory accusations of ironshod goosestepping that the blog author insinuates.

    There is a difference between having a hobby bench and doing 'science' and running a chem lab. One is harmless, the other is only harmless when you take the proper safety percautions.

  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:38PM (#24572379)
    As usual on Slashdot, what the submitter says happened and what the article says happened aren't the same.

    According to the article:
    A fire broke out on the 2nd floor of the subject's home. In the process of responding to this, firefighters found a LOT of chemicals, about 1500 different ones to be exact. The home was not zoned to be a chemical lab, so doing so much chemical work there violated zoning laws.

    So while it's quite fun to blame "evil" governments, had a fire not broken out nothing would have happened. And nobody who's railing about the government seems to have any smart ideas on how a home user is going to properly dispose of chemical waste in a legal and environmentally sound way. For all we know he was just dumping stuff down the toilet, which probably isn't legal.
  • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:38PM (#24572381) Journal
    Actually it sounds far more like they got wind of the guys lab somehow decided that the only possible reason someone would have a checmistry lab is to make drugs or be a terrorist, raided his house and are now desperately trying to find something he has done wrong so they don't look like incompetent morons.

    Of course by not owning up, apologising and making amends they are now coming across as vindictive, malicious incompetent morons. Somebody needs to remind them that when you find yourself in a hole it really is time to stop digging!
  • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:38PM (#24572401)

    This is not what we would consider to be a customary home occupation.

    So his ''crime'' was to do something slightly different from the rest of the population.

    Indeed. According to the Code Enforcement Officer of Crazytown, it's against city codes to have a job she can't understand.

    My town does have an ordinance about what occupations can be performed in a residence, and I suppose that Crazytown does too. The appropriate action for a code enforcer concerned about potential uncustomariness would be to contact the resident and ask about his vocation. If that still doesn't clear things up, then perhaps a trip to a library of the interwebs, or maybe a chat with someone smarter might be in order. But we live in times where intelligence and curiosity are looked on with suspicion, ignorance and uninformed "decisiveness" are lauded.

    I might add, in case Ms. Wilderman is reading this, that "lauded" means "felt good about by 'alot' o' folks".

  • by Ellis D. Tripp (755736) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:38PM (#24572405) Homepage

    On the other hand, you aren't allowed to own laboratory glassware in TX without a permit from the state and inspections from the cops....

  • by Nerdfest (867930) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:39PM (#24572419)
    Thanks to the school system, I don't this this science stuff is going to be a problem in another 10 years or so.
  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:40PM (#24572433)
    Ok, but lets see, any time I take a peek of a program's source code to see how it works am I not doing the same thing? I am obviously doing development and also researching various modifications of the source. No no one in the right mind would say that it should be illegal (well MS might...) but this is the exact same thing only rather than using chemicals and a lab, I'm using a computer and a 'net connection.
  • by blueg3 (192743) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:40PM (#24572437)

    I find ignorance to be basically politically agnostic. It's just that different political groups choose to be vocally ignorant about different matters.

  • by ivan256 (17499) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:41PM (#24572461)

    Exactly. The far left and the far right both have exactly the same goal: To tell others how to live their lives. They only way they differ is in how they think people's lives should be lived.

    Interestingly enough, people I meet from both sides are typically keen on telling you how they think others should live, but not too keen on being told how to live themselves.

  • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadinNO@SPAMxoxy.net> on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:42PM (#24572487) Homepage Journal

    If they discovered that you were keeping 200 cats in your home under extremely unsanitary conditions, they would do the same thing: move all of the cats to a shelter somewhere, and charge you with violating local health regulations once they had assessed the entire situation.

    Much as I like cats and wish a slow, painful death on anyone who's cruel to domestic animals, I wouldn't want the authorities busting in and confiscating anyone's cats without a warrant, either. I'd want them to go through the proper procedure, which involves ensuring there's probable cause that something illegal is going on (including, specifically, what law is being violated), getting a warrant, and then going in and dealing with the situation.

    There is a reason why our legal system has only very narrowly-defined exceptions to the rules requiring warrants (or at least, it used to) -- it's that process that keeps us from falling off the very steep cliff that ends with a police state.

  • by stonecypher (118140) <stonecypher AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:42PM (#24572505) Homepage Journal

    Oh shut up, it's one small town's small-time comptroller, not a vast conspiracy by hyperblue states.

  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:43PM (#24572509)

    Tell ya what. I'll let you ban gunpowder from garages if you let me ban gasoline from garages.

  • by jason.sweet (1272826) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:45PM (#24572567)
    It's better if the kids learn it at home than on the streets. Right?

    So we give the kids free bomb-making kits, boot-leg movies and free hookers and they are set for life.

    Damn! I wish I was a teenager again!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:46PM (#24572595)

    Yes, it does look like a zoning problem. But the typical first response to a zoning issue is the issuance of an injunction, not the seizure of large amounts of property. A reasonable response would be a court order to move it out of his house within 30 days.

  • by Kohath (38547) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:46PM (#24572599)

    What's the big deal?

    This is yet another example of the end of freedom, that's what. This is one set of people deciding that you are making the wrong choices with your freedom and they need to make all your choices for you from now on.

    They want to choose
    - your hobby,
    - what games you can play,
    - whether you can smoke,
    - what you can drink,
    - what you can eat,
    - what kinds of cars you're allowed to drive,
    - how fast,
    - where you can live,
    - how you celebrate the 4th of July,
    - how much money you can make,
    - how much money you can pay your employees,
    - how you raise your children,
    - what jokes you can tell at work,
    - the precise mix of fuel in your gas tank,
    - what health care you are to be allowed,
    - who you can rent housing to,
    - what's on your cable TV,
    - and what days you can water your lawn.

    What's the big deal? Why don't we all just make exactly the choices you might make and then we'll never have a problem?

    And the worst thing: the only "solution" people talk about is getting "person C" to be in charge of making everyone's choices for them instead of "person D".

  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:48PM (#24572627) Homepage Journal

    We still have model rockets.
    Estes is still in business. Sure the kits are dumb downed but very few kids will take the time to build a complex model these days. I wonder how few kids these days even build balsa models.
    It is just to easy to buy FSX or an airhog.
    Not only that but do you know how hard it is to find a field these days?
    Oh well. But then when I was a kid I had to live with the three books on airplanes or rockets they my local library had.

  • Re:Call the FBI? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sm62704 (957197) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:49PM (#24572653) Journal

    This fellow needs to make sure that the local authorities are smacked down. HARD.

    Yeah, and the next time he has a run-in with the authorities they'll find out he's a drug dealer [illinoistimes.com]. because you don't have to sell or aven posess drugs for the cops to find them on you.

    When something you can plant is illegal, anybody can go to prison, no matter how innocent they are.

  • Re:Typical (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheLostSamurai (1051736) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:52PM (#24572729)
    And this would most likely be a valid reason to get a warrant to search the premises further. However, that is not what happened.

    And IANAL so that may not even be good enough for a warrant.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:53PM (#24572741)

    The problem is that the stupid people aren't dying anymore.

  • Re:Chemicals (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Roger W Moore (538166) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:53PM (#24572747) Journal

    Depending on the specifics of what this guy's dealing with, he may be subject to rules regarding the safe disposal of certain chemicals, etc.

    Then wouldn't a more sensible response have been to talk with the guy, make sure that he knows the rules and possibly get a warrant and make an inspection if you were not satisfied? This sounds far more like trying to save face after finding out that the guy was not a drug manufacturer or terrorist.

  • by prennix (1069734) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:54PM (#24572765) Homepage
    if only it worked that way in practice. Neither big party (D&R) is interested in keeping government out of our lives. (see FISA, Homeland Security, Patriot...)

    the old myth that the R's are anti-big government or fiscally conservative is sadly outdated.
  • by FellowConspirator (882908) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:55PM (#24572781)

    Even the newspaper article linked by the person making the sensational claim doesn't support the claim. The story appears in several places and the facts in each don't support the thesis that "Home Science is Under Attack".

    The chemist in question had a fire in his house. While the fire department was responding to the fire, they happened upon the lab with an unusually large array of chemicals and equipment. They asked the man what he was doing with them and he noted that he was a retired chemist, doing his own development at home now, and was even patenting and marketing some of the things he developed.

    The fire marshall was concerned that the lab might pose a fire hazard and contacted the DEP per the usual protocol, and they went through and checked it out. They notified the town of the situation, who noted that he was doing commercial chemical R&D (by his own admission, he was) in a residential area in violation of applicable zoning laws. The DEP was required to "close" the lab and clean up any chemicals for which there's a prescribed disposal procedure (e.g., you're not supposed to pour large quantities of it down the sink).

    The guy broke zoning laws and he got caught because of an unrelated fire in his house. That's it.

  • Re:The actual law (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ellis D. Tripp (755736) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:56PM (#24572825) Homepage

    Yes, and notice the intentionally vague items list. A "flask heater"? An "adapter tube"? A "transformer"?!?!

    The whole idea here is apparently to make EVERYONE in TX a criminal, so that they can be charged with *something* any time the pigs want to....

  • by budgenator (254554) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:57PM (#24572839) Journal

    No the part I find most troubling is

    Firefighters found more than 1,500 vials, jars, cans, bottles and boxes in the basement Tuesday afternoon, after they responded to an unrelated fire in an air conditioner on the second floor of the home. Chemist allowed to go home, sans his lab [telegram.com]

    it wasn't cop but firemen; traditionally fire fighters have held a special position and had abilities to enter buildings and perform activities that we have prohibited policeman from performing without a warrant, by doing things like this the firefighters are jeopardizing this trust and placing the ability to protect the public safety in danger.

  • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @02:59PM (#24572861) Homepage Journal

    Well, you're the victim of a bad article summary.

    There's no problem with experimenting, the issue is how much chemicals you can store of on your site and dispose of through municipal services like trash removal and sewer without a permit.

    Details in the article are a bit thin, but nobody is getting raided in Massachusetts for doing chemistry set scale stuff.

  • by onecheapgeek (964280) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:00PM (#24572891) Journal

    I know this won't be popular here...but storing hazardous/flammable/whatever chemicals ON THE FLOOR is not a lab. It's a hazard.

    You want to run a chem lab in a neighborhood? You better notify your neighbors clearly - especially if there's a fire. You should probably also consider storing chemicals properly.

    I halfway wish he had a bit of sodium in that basement Yeah, that could have been VERY interesting with all that water flowing down through the walls and ceilings.... At least they would have only been occupying his pile of rubble then.

    But hey, his rights to house flammable (and possibly explosive) chemicals trumps everything else. DAMN POLICE STATE!!!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:03PM (#24572931)

    What qualifies at scientific research? My brother-in-law tested the absorbency of several brands of diapers for a school project. I just want to know if the police can come after him for doing this at home.

  • by AndersOSU (873247) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:04PM (#24572959)

    Zoning laws also keep neighbors from toxic gases, explosions, and contaminated ground water.

    I've got mixed feelings about this. From the news article it would appear that everything Deeb did was on the up and up. If you are responsible and safe you don't pose a threat to your neighbors.

    That said, it wasn't as if the authorities entered Deeb's house on a routine basement chemistry lab inspection. They found his lab while responding to a (unrelated) fire. Even if all the chemicals in the basement were ordinarily benign who knows what the environmental consequences would have been had a fire ravaged his basement.

    There's a reason industrial sites have contact with the fire department and State EPA. Deed almost certainly didn't.

  • by budgenator (254554) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:05PM (#24572975) Journal

    1 degree and 359 degrees are not far left and far right when compared to the 180 degrees that freedom loving people should be moving towards.

  • by thepacketmaster (574632) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:05PM (#24572983) Homepage Journal
    The poster wrote:

    Pamela Wilderman, the code enforcement officer for [the Massachusetts town of] Marlboro stated, 'I think Mr. Deeb has crossed a line somewhere. This is not what we would consider to be a customary home occupation.'

    The actual article says:

    Pamela A. Wilderman, Marlboro's code enforcement officer, said Mr. Deeb was doing scientific research and development in a residential area, which is a violation of zoning laws. It is a residential home in a residential neighborhood," she said. "This is Mr. Deeb's hobby. He's still got bunches of ideas. I think Mr. Deeb has crossed a line somewhere. This is not what we would consider to be a customary home occupation. ... There are regulations about how much you're supposed to have, how it's detained, how it's disposed of."

    Either the poster didn't properly read, or he/she just considers zoning bylaws useless. For those that do think zoning bylaws serve no point, let me reference the recent propane explosion [cnn.com] that occured in the middle of a Toronto residential neighbourhood, leaving two people dead and hundreds of homes damaged, and is now the subject of a zoning review [thestar.com]

  • by edremy (36408) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:06PM (#24572997) Journal
    despite my worries about the restrictions on personal freedom I have to wonder about the advisability of serious home chemistry work. Speaking as a (former) chemist I watched hideous safety violations daily at my previous job, and that was trained people working in a properly equipped lab on commericially zoned land.

    Sure, your neighbor *might* know what they are doing. They also might be doing things like

    • Leaving cans of ether sitting open on a benchtop and smoking a cigarette five feet away.
    • Leaving cans of ether sitting in a stockroom for *20* years. We had the bomb squad in to dispose of them.
    • Working with phosgene in a non-functional hood. Hint- if I can smell hay walking by the door of your lab, you might want to fix it
    • Storing various radioactives in a lab with no functioning controls at all.
    • Dumping cans of waste benzene and chloroform down the drain into their septic tank. The plant I use to work at is sitting on a lake of chloroform right now, ringed with positive pressure wells to avoid poisoning the water supply for everyone around them.

    Remember, these were all trained professionals. I'm not really interested in watching my neighbor's house explode because he didn't understand how to store ether properly, or having my well poisoned because he was too cheap to hire a proper chemical disposal service. Since my neighbor is a complete amateur, I have *no* idea how capable he is in handling this stuff. I've got a freaking PhD in the subject but there's no way I'm going to do anything beyond a chemistry set in my basement- I'm rusty and there's way too much chance of massive fail.

    Look at it this way- are you going to let your neighbor build high-power rockets in his basement and launch them from his backyard? (I'm not talking Estees, I'm talking the serious stuff) No? Why not? Because you hate his freedom or because they have a high chance of failure that could injure or kill a lot of people?

  • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:06PM (#24573013) Homepage Journal

    I think you've got this situation well characterized. The question is, how much? You can do a little light manufacturing in your house, after all, without getting a zoning variance.

    Likewise a little chemistry is not a problem, but at some point you should have the proper permits to discharge your waste into the sewers (which will probably require inspections), and you really should hire a private trash hauler to deal with your refuse.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:10PM (#24573091)

    God I hope you're old, because it's a sad day for this country if our youth are afraid of being "uncooperative".

  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:12PM (#24573137)

    It is a long-standing American tradition to run home-based businesses, invent things in home workshops, etc.

    In other words, fuck off and die, you fascist!

  • by maxume (22995) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:12PM (#24573139)

    Guns causing more harm than good doesn't actually imply that gun control causes more good than harm.

    You should be in favor of gun control only if you have a positive belief in gun control, not simply because you have negative beliefs about guns (I realize that this is likely your position, but why not reach for clarity).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:13PM (#24573163)

    perhaps you're just missing that neuron that the rest of us have that allows us to understand that "corner" was referring to a roadway intersection

  • by UltraAyla (828879) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:14PM (#24573169) Homepage
    Agreed. I'm glad not everyone jumped on this as a giant rash of government problems. So far, it's an isolated, albeit idiotic, incident.
  • by bws111 (1216812) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:14PM (#24573175)
    But there is a difference between 'your fence is 2 inches too high' and 'you have explosives in your basement'.
  • by PenguinX (18932) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:14PM (#24573181) Homepage

    aah, well then good point

    well then to heck with it, sick whatever political activist group you want on them...

  • Re:Call the FBI? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:16PM (#24573213)

    Heck, water, given the right conditions, can be made potentially explosive.

    References, please.

    Hullo? Separate it out into hydrogen and oxygen.

  • by fyngyrz (762201) * on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:17PM (#24573225) Homepage Journal

    He broke a zoning law.

    Yes, lawd lawd lawd. Lawd forbid you pursue a hobby in the (presently imaginary) sanctity of your own home.

    "Zoning" is anti-liberty crapola law; always has been. You want to control what goes on at the property next door, or down the block? Fine, then buy it. Otherwise, you have no legitimate authority over the owner's use unless they actually do something that affects you or your property -- not "might' do something, or you are "afraid" they might do something, because that nonsense is thought-crime (and it's YOUR thoughts!), but actually does something.

    Now, that's not saying you don't have *power*, because the deep pathology of our legal system is you can always steal unauthorized power on the basis of all manner of your own thought crimes; but you sure don't have any such right, no matter what you do.

    This country needs a deep cleaning of its nanny infection. Then we need the equivalent of mouse traps or prophylactic rings of poison around the legal system so they can't come back and re-infect us.

    ...you'd see that he had *WAY* too much stuff in his home

    Ooooo.. TOO MUCH STUFF!!! Now there's a crime you can sink your teeth into!

    ...was breaking the zoning laws by conducting scientific research in a residential neighborhood.

    Oh, yes. Yes! Yes indeed! Science doesn't belong in a residential neighborhood. Only churches. Science is a frightening, anti-social activity that must be guarded against most zealously in order that results, those evil, destabilizing fact-based destroyers of the status quo may be properly controlled by the government agency assigned to the task. Save the churches! Down with Science!

    Man, are you Stalin's reincarnated evil soul, or what?

    I hate the government too, but what I hate more is idiots that spread half-truths.

    What I hate are idiots that think suppression, repression, and outright theft of personal and property-related liberties is normal and nothing to get upset over. You know anyone like that? I think you do. I think you can figure this out. Really.

  • by Omestes (471991) <omestes AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:20PM (#24573275) Homepage Journal

    There is no such thing as a red or blue state. Its a media construct, that somehow became confused with a statement of truth. Look at the voting margins between Dems and Reps in any so-called Red or Blue state, and you'll be hard pressed to find a margin greater than 10%. The Red vs. Blue thing, if anything, is probably showing that people are moving more towards the middle, but this would remain invisible, since the lunatic fringes of each ideology are louder than the growing horde of moderates.

    Arizona, for example, is a VERY "red" state. But... We have a Democratic governor (who strongly endorsed Obama, almost to the point of quitting to help him), and around half of our counties have very liberal tendencies. Outside of Phoenix, two out of three of our "big" cities are very Democratic.

    Sadly the Electoral system isn't very good for showing diversity of opinion, which leads to both polarization and moderation being shown as "red" or "blue".

    Also... Red doesn't always equal religious... Only 43% of people in Arizona described themselves as religious in the 2000 census. Not to say that the remainder are atheists, but obviously not religious wackos either.

  • by raijinsetsu (1148625) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:22PM (#24573309)
    It's not illegal because it can cause a house fire. It's illegal because of the potential damage to neighbors. The police and fire officials legally entered his home by the owner's invitation (because of the fire). If they were to ignore the potential hazard of the described chemicals (being all over the furniture, floor, and shelving), then the fire and police departments would have to be held accountable in the event that his house blew up.
  • by houstonbofh (602064) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:23PM (#24573331)

    Yes, it does look like a zoning problem. But the typical first response to a zoning issue is the issuance of an injunction, not the seizure of large amounts of property. A reasonable response would be a court order to move it out of his house within 30 days.

    Seizure and destruction of large amounts of property.

  • by tinkerghost (944862) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:26PM (#24573383) Homepage

    This is just another representation of the government attempting to control the lives of citizens under the guise of protecting the masses.

    Um, as far as I can tell from the articles, that's not what's going on.

    • The house caught fire.
    • The firefighters put it out & discovered thousands of vials of chemicals stored in an unsafe manner.
    • Zoning & Health were called in - as is appropriate
    • Zoning & Health said, "Go stay in a hotel while we clean this up."
    • Mr. Deebs said "OK"

    Had he argued, then the zoning board & the health board would have gone to court and blah, blah, blah. You don't need due process when the person consents. Given how both the articles I read indicated his lab was a disaster area, I doubt that his house would have passed the safety inspection following the fire without the cleanup.

    Had he had a properly organized lab in the garage, he probably would have been OK, they're a lot stricter about what you can store in the house itself.

  • by Otter (3800) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:27PM (#24573403) Journal
    Anyone who has worked in a lab understands what happens to you if you're flouting safety regulations, have a fire, and the firemen see your mess. All these "OMG teh chemistry!!!" people ranting about the Fourth Amendment and terrorism clearly don't know jack about being a chemist.
  • by jabithew (1340853) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:28PM (#24573417)

    Political Compass. [politicalcompass.org]

    I link to it so many times, it's really useful. As a rule politicians score highly on the authoritarian side. I can think of two obvious reasons for this;
    1) If you don't think you can run the world better than everyone else, why become a politician?
    2) Those who manage to climb the political ladder now have power and are loth to relinquish it.

  • by Thaelon (250687) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:28PM (#24573431)

    That's because building the kits can be boring, tedious and require more tools or materials than your parents will buy you.

    Not to mention the igniters failed half the time, and we never had 6 freaking AA batteries to make the stupid launcher work anyway.

    I got to the point where I would only use the kits with premade rockets. And then I would ignite them by sticking some cannon fuse down the engine and wedging it in with a stick. It was about 600% more reliable. And didn't require $6 worth of batteries. And at 2-3 seconds per inch of fuse, you could spend $6 and get enough to launch about 36 rockets with 5 second delays. More if you were cool with sprinting away from the rocket instead of walking. And what kid isn't?

    Hell, I even lit a few motors without rockets out of boredom. Jam a broom in the ground, stick the engine in upside down, light the cannon fuse, back away, and watch the neighbor's dogs start barking at the noise. Those things are loud when they stay on the ground. Then, if you were less cautious you could try and catch the hot potato when the engine's ejection charge fires and launches it several feet into the air. I didn't try. Go go gadget newtons of thrust.

  • by nickhart (1009937) <nickhart @ g m a i l .com> on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:29PM (#24573445) Homepage

    The far left and the far right both have exactly the same goal: To tell others how to live their lives. They only way they differ is in how they think people's lives should be lived.

    This is hardly a case of "the far left" telling people how to live their lives--just silly bureaucrats who don't know any better.

    The far left (ie: socialists) are actually about increasing freedom and democracy—although the only way to achieve that is to reduce the freedoms of the capitalists (who use their wealth and "ownership" of the means of production to control society in their narrow, short-sighted and selfish interests).

    The Christian right (or any fundamentalist religious sect—be it Zionist, Islamic or whatever else there is) wants to reduce everyone's freedoms based on their religious dogma. The far right (ie: libertarians) wants to reduce restrictions on capital. When there are fewer restrictions on the rich and how they are allowed to push the rest of us around with their wealth, power and privilege, then it means the rest of us have less freedom. Libertarians want freedom from public services, freedom from labor unions, freedom from environmental regulation, freedom from anything that might reduce their profits and help those who create their profits.

  • by Arccot (1115809) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:30PM (#24573459)
    Uggg... more knee jerk reaction to a pretty obvious case of prudent police work.

    There's a fire in his house. The fire dept. and police come, and put out the fire. In the process of putting out the fire, they notice hundreds of vials of chemicals. Not in a rack, not on a shelf, not even on a table, but all over the place. On the floor, on furniture, everywhere. No reasonable chemist would be dumb enough to do that with any chemicals.

    What would you want the police to do? Walk out without doing a little due diligence? There's a good chance he is storing these chemicals unsafely, and he is endangering his life and possibly others as a result. So they call in the experts to clean it up. And then they take a look at what he's done wrong, and probably will give him a fine and a slap on the wrist.

    It's amazing how many Slashdotters don't even bother to do a bit of research before coming to their black-and-white conclusion about how The Man is bad and this poor fellow is being an upstanding citizen with his rights violated. How dare the police invade this man's home! It's an attack on science! They hate the science!

    RTFA!

    There are alot of Slashdotters that seem to take pride in their critical thinking, intelligence, and analysis skills. Honestly, alot of you really don't demonstrate it very often here. It's more like a lynch mob than a bunch of intelligent people discussing issues.
  • by obliv!on (1160633) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:31PM (#24573473) Homepage Journal
    Except the fire was on the second floor of his house and his lab was in his basement. Not exactly in plain sight.

    You can expressly authorize them access to a specific area, the fire, and if they are snooping in other unrelated parts of the house still be violating his right to privacy. He doesn't forfeit a reasonable right to privacy, because he requires emergency assistance in an unrelated part of his home.
  • by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:33PM (#24573517)

    Otherwise, you have no legitimate authority over the owner's use unless they actually do something that affects you or your property -- not "might' do something, or you are "afraid" they might do something, because that nonsense is thought-crime (and it's YOUR thoughts!), but actually does something.

    What affects you or your property is not some guiding principle you can appeal to, but a term who's interpertation is up in the air. Your science experiments, if dangerous (say you are trying to find a more energy-dense fuel then gasoline), certainly can blow up my house. Why should I assume that risk? And they lower my property values certainly, because other people want to be compensated for that risk. It could raise my insurance premiums.

    Suppose you paint your house day-glow orange. Well, it doesn't seem dangerous, but on the other hand, again, it lowers my property values. I have to look at an ugly eyesore (assuming I have line of sight).

    What about loud music? Foul odors? Constantly having 30 people over and taking up all the street parking?

    It's all a matter of degree, and reasonable people can disagree. Anyone who claims to "know" the right solution is full of crap.

  • by ChristTrekker (91442) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:34PM (#24573549)

    Maybe the "leave me alone and keep government small" ppl happen to be religious types, and they get ridiculed on the latter point in order to demonize the former ideas by association. Just a thought.

  • Re:Call the FBI? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mrchaotica (681592) * on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:37PM (#24573573)

    some of the chemicals were potentially explosive

    Whoop-de-fucking-do! So are lots of the things normal people keep under their kitchen sink, or in the red container on the shelf next to their lawnmower, or any number of other places!

    his qualifications sound like a hobbyist not a professional

    So what? Are hobbies illegal now?! Exactly who the fuck do you think you are, to dictate what hobbies are acceptable?!

    I don't know about you but I'm not sure I'd want a hobbyist with an extremely large amount of potentially explosive material (stored improperly) doing "experiments" next door to me and my family.

    Translation: "Waah! Waah! Think of the children! I'm a damn, sniveling coward so I'm gonna whine and cry until the nanny government stamps out all that evil, dangerous LIBERTY AND FREEDOM!"

  • by Mr. Slippery (47854) <.tms. .at. .infamous.net.> on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:38PM (#24573593) Homepage

    "Red State" used to mean, "Leave me alone and keep the government SMALL."

    "Small", of course, not including our ridiculous military spending; and leave me alone" means "feel free to go into other people's bedrooms and tell them how and with whom it's acceptible to make love." And of course, the government's powers to make the rich richer, to keep the engine of state capitalism humming, are never to be reduced: seldom will you hear a "small government" conservative rail against the government's powers to issue patents, copyrights, land and resource deeds, or corporate charters

    Conservatism has never been about smaller government. Their most "intellectual" leader, William Buckley, famously said "The job of conservatives was to stand athwart history, yelling, stop." And that's exactly the heart of conservatism: fear of change and progress. When the government is a agent of progress, as it was during desegregation, it is a thing to be opposed; when it is an agent of the repression of progress, as in aggressive war, anti-sodomy laws, forced religious indoctrination, and the like, it is to be supported with flag-waving fervor.

  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:43PM (#24573659)
    Indeed, Ron Paul (for example) in his Revolution [amazon.com] laments the loss of free thinking and Liberal (classically Liberal or what we now call Libertarian since the term Liberal has been hijacked by the far left in much the same way that Conservative has been hijacked by the neocons on the far right) citizens in the mold of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Patrick Henry who would be utterly appalled with the present state of affairs in the nation that they bequeathed to us. Unfortunately, for those of us Americans with an IQ greater than our shoe size, the vast majority of people want to be told how to live because they are too stupid, too ignorant, and too foolish to take care of themselves and the few intelligent politicians, almost without exception, use their gray matter advantage to manipulate rather than to educate the populace. Really, I am beginning to despair for the future outcome of our great American experiment because too few people now understand the true basis of American values or else they choose to ignore them as quaint anachronisms unfit for our modern times.
  • by UncleTogie (1004853) * on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:47PM (#24573745) Homepage Journal

    No, a Syndicate is an enterprise democratically managed by its workers.

    That's actually one of many ways the word syndicate [wikipedia.org] is used...not the only one.

    For example, I'm fairly sure that a crime syndicate is NOT democratically managed...

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:48PM (#24573765) Homepage
    *Sigh*. I know, but the children are busy having a tantrum. Hopefully once they calm down, they'll RTFA later, and ponder for a second whether they'd like to be living next door to this fellow once they move out of their parents' basements.
  • by The Great Pretender (975978) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:48PM (#24573773)
    I'm a chemistry, by industry, by education and if I saw 1500 vials, jars, cans, bottles and boxes sitting around full of chemistry stuff I'd want some authority to check it out. My response to this is based simply on my understanding of what someone can easily do with household products let alone ordered chemical and prep equipment. However, I do have to wonder if the outrage at the fascist authorities would be replaced by support if the guys name was Mustaffa or equivalent and he had an extensive (for home use) chemistry lab. Now ideally, our Mr. Deeb would have had an inventory of everything and have separated the chemicals appropriately for saftey sake.
  • by WillRobinson (159226) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:53PM (#24573849) Journal

    So those 200 gallon fuel tanks everybody has in the north, what about those! Hope the electric companies in MA decide that that is way to dangerous to have in a residential area!!! Hope the electric bill makes you more comfortable

     

  • by Hoi Polloi (522990) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:56PM (#24573911) Journal

    Maybe if you RTFA you would've seen that the issue wasn't his interest in chemistry. The problem was that they came to put a FIRE OUT and found ~1500 bottles of chemicals that could've posed a major fire hazard. This was in a residential neighborhood (e.g. close houses), not an industrial park.

  • by thesupraman (179040) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:56PM (#24573921)

    So tell me, just how big a propane grill or petrol fuel tank would you consider illegal in a residential zone?

    there is no sense is scaremongering about 'how flammable' as I am sure you know, petrol is a critically dangerous item in that respect, and yet I can keep large quantities in my garage without any form of concern.

    Any you really have never seen an AC fire in a non-chemical filled house? wow, must be some high quality houses you are used to where compressors never burn out..

  • by ResidntGeek (772730) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @03:58PM (#24573971) Journal
    That's a great thought. Maybe someday you'll travel to a red state and talk to people, and you'll find out it's wrong.
  • Re:The actual law (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @04:08PM (#24574131)

    Yes, and notice the intentionally vague items list. A "flask heater"? An "adapter tube"? A "transformer"?!?!

    The whole idea here is apparently to make EVERYONE in TX a criminal, so that they can be charged with *something* any time the pigs want to....

    Yup. As it was in the past, so it is today.

    "Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against - then you'll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens' What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted - and you create a nation of law-breakers - and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Rearden, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."

    - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, 1957

    "With the law books filled with a great assortment of crimes, a prosecutor stands a fair chance of finding at least a technical violation of some act on the part of almost anyone. In such a case, it is not a question of discovering the commission of a crime and then looking for the man who has committed it, it is a question of picking the man and then searching the law books, or putting investigators to work, to pin some offense on him."

    - former Attorney General and Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, 1940

  • Re:The scary thing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Otter (3800) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @04:10PM (#24574159) Journal
    Also, people here are mostly incapable of grasping that there's more to law than criminal law. When firemen come into your home laboratory (at which point they're already disinclined to give you the benefit of the doubt about what a knowledgeable chemist you are) criminal proceedings are the least of their concerns.
  • by lgw (121541) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @04:14PM (#24574225) Journal

    I lived in Houston for 20 years myself, and if you're getting into arguments I somehow get the feeling that *you're* the one picking fights with people who have a different belief system. You hear a viewpoint grounded in religion or other bullshit and you just *have* to make an issue of it. But then, my college roomate was exactly like that, so maybe I'm just projecting.

  • by greywire (78262) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @04:23PM (#24574383) Homepage

    Open space is the main issue. All the places we used to fly are now golf fields and such. It is frowned upon almost anywhere unless you go out to the desert where there's nobody to care.

    But it used to be you could go into any kmart and find models and tools and supplies.

    I am not that old, and I remember even in the early 80's where it started to become hard to get things. Sometimes, I was not allowed to buy simple things like glue and paint without a parent (guess they thought I was going to sniff it or something).

    Rockets are even harder. I am actually suprised you can still get some estes items at certain rare stores. No idea where you'd launch the suckers though. I bet I'd get a nice crowd going at the local park if I set up to launch some rockets (that is, not just one little one, but really did it like we used to with multiple large rockets, etc). until the cops showed up.

    Anything truly homemade would probably get me on a list somewhere of potentially dangerous people..

  • by KillerBob (217953) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @04:23PM (#24574389)

    I wonder how many households are breaking that law.

    Probably all of them. The law prohibits owning/operating a transformer... how many appliances do you have that actually run on 120VAC? In my house, the only ones I had until fairly recently were incandescent lightbulbs. Now that I've switched to compact fluorescent, I replaced the last incandescent last week, and don't actually have a single device in the house which uses 120VAC natively for all components. In other words: they've *all* got a transformer.

  • Re:The actual law (Score:2, Insightful)

    by djlosch (556330) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @04:25PM (#24574415)
    You left out the part of "any item of equipment designed, made, or adapted to manufacture a controlled substance or a controlled substance analogue." This sounds like your standard burglary tools clause, and these are probably not actually illegal in TX on their own. The typical burglary tool list makes it illegal to possess hammers, screwdrivers, crowbars, etc., but only with intent to unlawfully enter or remain in a conveyance. All that happens is that when they bust someone, they can charge them with more counts that will be much easier to stick (and force a plea). Besides "a filter" is on the list, and it would be laughable to think that everyone who goes to their local big box to buy an AC filter or some cheese cloth is now a criminal.

    And even then, you still have due process and the takings clause.

    -- Florida Criminal Defense Attorney. I'm not your attorney. Always consult an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.
  • by Sinbios (852437) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @04:25PM (#24574419) Homepage

    sadly, most won't get the reference.

    /Sadly/?

    Are you suggesting that the fact most people don't understand references to Japanese cartoons is somehow a sad state of affairs?

  • Re:Call the FBI? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LionMage (318500) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @04:26PM (#24574427) Homepage

    As for confiscation of his chemicals, it sounds like he had way more chemicals than he should need[...]

    So the government is in the position to decide how much of something a person needs in their home? "Hey, this guy's a Mormon and he's hoarding a year's worth of food in his home! Nobody should need to keep a year's worth of food in his home!" (Many of my Mormon friends routinely keep that much food on hand, and I'm told this is common.) "Hey, this guy's an audiophile and he's got scads of speakers and amplifiers all over the place! Nobody needs that much consumer electronics in his home!" Or, particularly relevant to people in places like Arizona (where I live), "Hey, this guy has a huge gun collection! Nobody should ever need more than one firearm! Heck, who needs guns at all, unless they're in law enforcement?"

    If you want to argue about proper storage, fine. But don't start talking about what you think someone needs or doesn't need. That's not for you to decide.

    TFA also says that some were potentially explosive and doesn't mention his qualifications. [...] his qualifications sound like a hobbyist not a professional.

    He's a retired chemist. That's plenty of qualification in my book!

    In case you missed it, the first five words of TFA were:

    Victor Deeb, the retired chemist[...]

    How is it that you could miss the very first sentence of the article and say you don't see any mention of his qualifications, and then turn around and make the claim that you think you know what his qualifications "sound like"?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @04:29PM (#24574471)

    My question would be if they were working a fire in a window unit on the second floor, what were they doing in the basement?

    I, unlike yourself, am not a volunteer fireman, but my rudimentary knowledge of the subject of air conditioning units suggests that they may have been checking circuit breakers.

  • by parc (25467) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @04:52PM (#24574815)

    Try going to the site and _reading_ the search waiver. It includes a time limit on the search, location limitation, and specifically requires your presence for the inspection. Yes, some of these are for the convenience of the DPS (so they can arrest you), but the waiver is _not_ a waiver of all 4th amendment rights.

    No doubt this is a stupid law, but it is level-headed and appropriate when compared with the vast majority of laws we manage to pass around here.

  • Re:The actual law (Score:5, Insightful)

    by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @05:15PM (#24575137) Homepage Journal

    But as long as you carry at least one gun with you at all times, then you're OK, right? And the gun rack on the back of your pickup truck scores double, I've heard...

    Actually, Texas is one of only six states in the nation that bans openly carrying a firearm. In Texas, the ONLY way to legally carry a gun on your person is with a concealed carry permit. That means that in Texas, the constitutional right to bear arms is granted or not at the whim of the government.

    There is a growing movement in Texas to correct this situation. An on-line petition has collected nearly 23,000 signatures and several legislators have promised to introduce a bill to join the majority of the nation and allow open carry.

    It sounds like they need to go after the glassware restrictions next. Actually, what we really need to do as a nation is give up the ridiculous "war on drugs" which, to date, is the source of more civil liberties infringements than any other issue, including the "war on terror".

  • by nickhart (1009937) <nickhart @ g m a i l .com> on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @05:18PM (#24575165) Homepage

    Socialism is a parasitic system...

    Please. Capitalism is the ultimate parasitic system. The capitalists add no value. They perform no labor. They reap the rewards of others' labor. Without workers capitalism could not exist, because the entire system is based on the exploitation of labor. Capitalists are the very definition of parasites.

    Under capitalism production is socialized--we work together to produce commodities. However, the product of our labor is appropriated by private individuals and sold for their profit. Social production with private appropriation is organized theft. The capitalists need us to create their profits, but we don't need them. We can re-organize society so that everyone benefits, not just a handful of tiny parasites who think they "own" everything.

    PS: in anticipation of others' diatribes, the USSR, China and Cuba are not and never were socialist. They were/are capitalist--because they employ the capitalist mode of production (exploitation of workers, accumulation of capital for accumulation's sake). Only in their systems there's one big capitalist: the state. These regimes merely use the language of socialism to lull workers into accepting the status quo--much as capitalists in the US and Western nations talk about "democracy" to delude their workers into thinking they're free. It's much easier to control people with these illusions in place.

    PPS: Robert Owen was a utopian socialist who thought he could dream up a new society and bestow it upon the poor, hapless workers. Marx and Engels were scientific socialists, who discovered how capitalism works, what its internal contradictions are and how the working class (capitalism's essential product, without which it cannot exist) holds the key to overturning it and ending class society forever. Utopian and scientific socialism have little to do with each other.

  • by Derosian (943622) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @05:22PM (#24575241) Homepage Journal
    I'm a guncollectory, by industry and by education and if I saw a couple of pistols, rifles, and semi-automatics sitting around full of gunnery stuff I'd want some authority to check it out. My response to this is based simply on my understanding of what someone can easily do with guns and ammunition let alone ammunition bought special and assault equipment. However, I do have to wonder if the outrage at the fascist authorities would be replaced by support if the guy's name was Ali Akid Jabbabi or equivalent and he had an extensive(for home use) gun collection. Now ideally, our Mr. Deeb would have had an inventory[or the government] of everything and [would] have separated the guns appropriately for saftey[safety's] sake.

    Forgetting everything else that makes this comment seem worthless like your inappropriate use of the word chemistry and quickly followed up by your note of the "chemistry stuff", I'm sure you feel that the government has every right to search every single house at least once a year to make sure nothing illegal is going on inside, and if they find something which scares them even if it isn't illegal they can take it anyway, because it is best if the government watches our for our well being. After all what other reason would the government exist for?

    Go ahead mod me troll...
  • by budgenator (254554) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @05:34PM (#24575395) Journal

    The guys air conditioner caught on fire, how is that a hazardous materials event? If calling the FD starts resulting in a monumental legal brouhaha, how likely are people to call the FD while they still have a chance to contain the blaze before it burns down half the neighborhood?

  • Re:Chemicals (Score:1, Insightful)

    by rally2xs (1093023) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @06:16PM (#24575885)
    You should read some of the warnings for chemicals used to process E4 color slides - will the cops come and gather up your darkroom if you're still into that chemical based picture stuff?
  • by nickhart (1009937) <nickhart @ g m a i l .com> on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @06:29PM (#24576043) Homepage

    This value comes from the improvement of the efficiency it causes.

    Efficient? Capitalism? Have you been spending your profits on ganja?

    Look at the health insurance system in the US. Hundreds of different insurers, all with their own little bureaucracies and red-tape (ironically designed not to provide care, but to DENY it). Each has their own marketing departments and collection of overpaid executives. Every clinic and hospital in the US has to navigate this maze of bureaucracies in order to get paid, which wastes countless hours and dollars. Medicare spends 7% of its budget on overhead, whereas private insurance companies spend 15-30%. Collectively the people of the US spend as much on health care as a single-payer system would cost, and yet we have 50 million uninsured people and 18,000 die premature deaths every year due to lack of coverage. A marvel of efficiency at getting the capitalists paid, but not at healing people.

    Or consider the millions of out of work people in the US. It's not that there isn't any work to be done--there's plenty of stuff that needs working on: fixing our crumbling national infrastructure, repairing levies, building mass transit systems, schools, hospitals... the list goes on. Yet none of that happens because it wouldn't be profitable for the capitalists who have all the money. Efficient at making a handful of parasites rich, but not efficient at providing necessary public services.

    What about the 6 million children who die of hunger and treatable illness worldwide each and every year? UNICEF estimates it would cost $80 billion annually to feed them all--a figure that is a fifth of the US's annual military budget (and not including supplemental budgets for our wars or interest payments on those debts). The government would rather pay companies to not grow food or destroy their surpluses than to feed the hungry.

    Or consider the billions of people who will never get a chance at a decent education. There could be Einsteins, Bachs and geniuses all over the world who will never be allowed to achieve their potential because capitalists are loathe to spend money on educating people any more than is required for them to work in their factories and offices.

    So much human potential is squandered and so much misery is caused all in the name of profit and "efficiency." The only thing capitalism is efficient at is ruining lives and generating profits for those parasites at the top who perform no labor but reap the rewards of others' labor. Thanks, but no thanks.

  • by jabithew (1340853) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @06:45PM (#24576229)

    The capitalists need us to create their profits, but we don't need them.

    Unfortunately, we rather do. Labour cannot labour without capital, so capital is actually a key part of adding value. After all, a workman without capital is simply unemployed.

    Also, if the state can't own capital, then who can? If it's held in common, then some way of administering capital (i.e. allocating it in the best way) would have to be implemented. It could be a person (in which case you'd have a monopsonistic capitalist, fantastic) or some sort of communal administration, or a state as most people prefer to call it. In reality, the worker benefits more from competitive sale of capital (i.e. many capitalists) and from the use of price signals to assign capital (after all price is the place where people can't afford to lie).

    The old myth that capital doesn't add value is based on a discredited economic theory; the labour theory of value, which states such more or less by definition. However, the LTV fails to explain observed economic facts (e.g. why does coffee cost more in a station than from the same brand 200m away?) This is why economists have switched to the marginal utility theory of value, which makes more sense a priori anyway to me.

  • by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @06:58PM (#24576343)

    Three things:

    1. I RTFA'd.
    2. I'm a homeowner, and would be perfectly happy having this fellow as my neighbor.
    3. I'm insulted.

    That latter bit is actually somewhat of a surprise; generally speaking, it Just Doesn't Happen on slashdot.

  • by mbessey (304651) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @07:40PM (#24576709) Homepage Journal

    The problem with these bottle bombs is that it's difficult to predict when the pressure in the bottle will get high enouigh to burst it, and when it does burst, it sprays caustic chemicals everywhere. If you want to do something like this, stick to the Dry Ice and water variant. At least with those, the worst you're likely to get is a bad cut from flying plastic, rather than a full-body chemical burn.

    Oh, and remember to wear eye protection. Always.

  • by stuboogie (900470) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @08:10PM (#24576953)
    In 1857, at the age of 10, Thomas Edison set up a chemical laboratory in the cellar of his home. Good thing his house wasn't raided by the authorities.

    We soon forget that many scientific advances were made by people just like this chemistry professor working out of a home lab.

    Just because he had "vessels of chemicals all over the furniture and the floor," does not mean there was any danger. I would assume a person of his credentials would know what they are doing.
  • by Mr. Slippery (47854) <.tms. .at. .infamous.net.> on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @09:37PM (#24577613) Homepage

    As a professional software engineer, I value my QA depaptment. Their job is to stand athwart product delivery, yelling, stop.

    There is a very large difference between "Slow down, and be cautious in working toward your goal!", and "Stop! Keep things are they are!"

    To continue your software metaphor, the conservative position (as expressed by Buckley) is to say "The current release is perfect! Nothing could ever be better! Stop the patches!"

    It's failure of imagination: as Tim Kreider puts it [thepaincomics.com]: "Conservatives don't have any. The status quo seems only inevitable and right to them, the natural order of things, and anyone who protests it is an impractical dreamer who should get a job or a malcontent who needs to be medicated. They're incapable of seeing their own historical moment as in any way anomalous or provisional; as Montag's colleagues assure him in Farenheit 451, `Believe me, houses have always been fireproof. Firemen have always burned books.' They believe that they deserve their own lives; they can't imagine having been born as someone else. (Empathy, and by extension compassion, is a function of imagination.) They can't imagine what it would be like to be poor, or black, or gay, because, well, they're not, and they suspect that these unfortunate conditions are those people's own faults, a consequence of some moral failing or dereliction. (I always secretly felt this way about old people until I noticed I was aging as well.) Likewise people living in other cultures with different beliefs and customs; they're simply ignorant, deprived of the advantages of Jesus and Wal-Mart. Francis Fukyama, in a book with the straight-line title The End of History, argues that capitalist liberal democracy is the final culmination of all social progress, apparently unable to imagine a more perfect system than the one epitomized by Donald Trump and Kenneth Lay."

    All good engineers are conservative engineers

    Two different meanings of "conservative" are at play here - for example, a "conservative estimate" of the cost of the Iraq boondoggle doesn't mean one that comes from the GOP. Nor does Postel's law [wikipedia.org] tell us that we should be political conservatives.

    If you spent more time talking to smart conservatives you'd realize that they're just as common as smart progressives, and they're in general just as desirous of progress

    Well, smart people of any type are a rarity. :-(

    I find most of the few smart people who identity as "conservative", simply aren't: smart "conservatives" tend toward libertarian, but have bought into the mistaken notion that "conservative" means "small government" and "liberal" or "progressive" means more government.

    Other "smart" conservatives are otherwise intelligent people under the influence of a delusional belief system, typically a religious one.

    Other than that, it's hard to find smart people who have chosen to line up with the side that has been so consistently wrong. If we take the modern conservative movement as beginning in 1955 with the founding of National Review, we see that their position has been wrong on segregation, McCarthyism, Vietnam, and the women's movement. Anyone with sense knows the current conservative position on gay rights is going to be looked back on the same way as the conservative position in the 1960s on miscegenation is viewed today. Moderate Jimmy Carter tried to encourage alternative energy development in the 1970s, had solar panels installed on the White House roof; conservative hero Reagan tore 'em out and slashes federal funding for alternative fuels.

    Over the past fifty years, if you take any issue with clear "conservative" and "liberal" positions, time and time again we see the conservative one now widely accepted as unwise.

  • by alizard (107678) <alizard@noSpAM.ecis.com> on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @10:08PM (#24577815) Homepage
    in Worchester? MOVE NOW.

    That "not a customary home occupation" test can be applied to anything VCs are likely to fund. So get out now before the city shuts you down for not doing something that's within the rather limited comprehension range of their code enforcement officer. "You're programming computers? EVIL HACKER, I'm calling the police right now! You've crossed an invisible line!!!" Alternative energy? "Algae is dangerous! I have to clean it out of my pool every week. And you're growing the stuff? The Department of Homeland Security knows how to deal with your kind!" Otherwise, assuming you stay out of jail or Gitmo, you'll have to watch your competitors in saner jurisdictions pull ahead of you while you try to get your hardware and data files away from the city.

    There are reasons why even left-wing Democrats joke about the "People's Republic of Massachusetts". If this kind of nanny-state crap becomes prevalent in MA, even MIT's chemistry classes are likely to turn into high-school style 'comment and take notes on the experiment you'll be watching on video' crap. Though more likely, they'll simply find a saner state to move to.
  • by wolf12886 (1206182) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @10:15PM (#24577853)

    If he wants to do science with 1500 chemicals, he should rent a space in an industrial park. Then the fire department can use Fire Codes to force him to properly label and store his shit according to the appropriate guidelines.

    The number of chemicals indicates nothing as far as the how hazardous his lab was.

    By your logic, cooking should be limited to industrial parks as well, or even isolated bunkers, since your average pot of stew's going to be made with ingredients containing TENS OF THOUSANDS of different chemicals. What's important is not how many chemicals, but which ones, and in what quantities.

    The fact that people saw fit to mod you insightful despite your display of such blatant ignorance astounds me.

  • by slider3618 (1211542) * <apothecary_01@earthlink.net> on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @12:35AM (#24578725)

    This drives me crazy. My hobby is microscopy, and it is nearly impossible to get the supplies I need - and I am a pharmacist. After pondering this dilemma, I started carrying a number of chemicals, and repackaging them in smaller portions for the group of people who share my interest, and I charge cost for them. Every time a health inspector or Board of Pharmacy inspector comes in I have to explain and justify why I carry these "exotic items". I used to get Nitric acid from the local pharmacy when I was a kid just by saying it was for my chemistry set. Things have sure changed.

  • by Mr. Slippery (47854) <.tms. .at. .infamous.net.> on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @10:46AM (#24583355) Homepage

    Except that's not actually the conservative position esposed by Buckley - that was just his quote for the founding of a magazine.

    It's not "just" a quote, its his a pithy summary of his own thoughts. It's his summary of the conservative ideology.

    And make no mistake, progressives are wrong 10 or 100 times as often as conservatives.

    So give at least 10 examples of times when the modern (post-1955) conservative movement has been right on a major issue. Should be easy if you're right.

    like the many failed utopias

    If we're going back to the 1800s, I'm laying slavery at the feet of the conservatives, abolition on the shoulders of the progressives. Massive, massive win for the progressives.

    As for utopianism, many of these 19th century utopian communities were extremely Christian, heavy on the Old Testament - hardly progressive. But the secular and progressive ones pioneered such "failed" ideas as equality for women and public schooling.

    or the crazy 19th century health fads.

    Citation needed that "crazy 19th century health fads" were somehow the exclusive domain of progressives. Kellogg [wikipedia.org], for example, was a Seventh-Day Adventist who favored segregation. (Of course, his ideas that a vegetarian diet and execise are good for you are hardly crazy. He was even right about probiotics; but his love of enemas, plus his extreme views about sex, let us file him in the "crazy" bin.)

    *Of course* if you look at the ideas that actually *worked*, the progressivs are nearly always right - but that's trivially true, and not very interesting.

    So according to you, progressives have lots of ideas, many of them bad, but nearly all of the ideas that worked came from them? So you admit that conservatives rarely have ideas that work?

    Are the progressive wrong on the danger of global warming, or were they wrong when I was young on the danger of the coming ice age?

    There was no scientific consensus of a ice age coming soon back in the 70s [realclimate.org]. It was a misinterpretation by popular media. I am unaware that were any progressive ties to this.

    On the other hand, there is strong scientific consensus that "global warming" is real and is largely anthropogenic [www.ipcc.ch].

    And the deliberate conflating of the two by anti-science conservatives shows, yet again, why few smart - or at least, smart and honest - people will align themselves with this movement.

    It's an easy illusion to think of the way things are now as better in every way then the way things were, since we're comfortable with the familiar, and what about even better ways of living that we missed in our rush to pick something that sounded good at the time?

    When were these "better ways of living" around? Back when we had segregation? When women were second-class citizens? When America was so dominated by ignorance that we had to argue over whether science should be taught in science classes?

    Whoops, we're still in the total grip of that last one, and the partial grip of the second. And really, one look at the inner cities and the prisons show that the first hasn't gone away either. Still lots of progress needed.

    Are there some good policy ideas in the past? Sure. I was recently arguing [slashdot.org] that we ought to return to the Eisenhower days' top marginal tax rate of 90%. But as a whole, that era of segregation, McCarthyism, and sexism belongs in the dustbin.

  • by fyngyrz (762201) * on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @02:55PM (#24587961) Homepage Journal

    The real question is what Mr. Libertarian does after the chemist who destroys his property value in the long term - lets say chemical soil contamination - does after the chemist declares bankruptcy.

    Yes, (a) this should be actionable [it is actual interference with property], and (b) it is possible that the losses may not be recoverable. Just as a rape cannot be followed by virginity, a mugging cannot be followed by innocence, etc. Some things happen and you are changed, or your resources change, and that's the end of it. You can whine like a little bitch, or you can pull up your big-boy pants and go on with life.

    Life is full of risks. If there's nothing to be done, then that's the way it is. Such risks are worth taking to preserve liberty. That's where you (and the rest of the nanny-staters) differ, really. You think that the reduction of risk is worth giving up freedom. I don't think so. I find the entire idea to be cowardly.

    This fixation on property "value" is a side effect of property as investment; or in other words, gambling. What you're trying to accomplish by telling the neighbors what to do is have them guarantee a risk you decided to take by purchasing the property. I simply don't see where the neighbors become responsible for risks you decided to take (unless you enter into a signed covenant with them) such that you think you have the right to coerce them into behaving the way you want them to on their own property.

    Libertarian theory rests on the assumption that everyone can be held responsible for their actions.

    No, your version of libertarian theory rests on that presumption.

    My theory rests on the idea that I don't have any right to tell you what to do until you are causing me damage. If you stay off of my property, do not harm or trespass upon my property, and leave my physical self and those of my dependents alone, I don't have a beef with you.

    Is there is a risk this approach could lead to a loss on my part? Sure. Is it likely to? Not very. Are there benefits to taking this position? Yes, there are many. I judge the risk to be more than acceptable in light of the benefits received.

With all the fancy scientists in the world, why can't they just once build a nuclear balm?

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