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Anti-Terrorism and the Death of the Chemistry Set 860

An anonymous reader writes "A recent unfortunate casualty of anti-terrorism laws is the home chemistry set. Once deemed the gift that saved Christmas, most Slashdotters probably remember early childhood experimentation with one of the many pre-packaged chemistry sets that were on the market. Unfortunately the FBI has decided that home chemistry sets are a threat to national security and they are rapidly disappearing from the market entirely. Those that remain are shallow boring versions of the old kits."
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Anti-Terrorism and the Death of the Chemistry Set

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  • And by extension (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wylfing ( 144940 ) <brian.wylfing@net> on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:10PM (#21191791) Homepage Journal

    All knowledge shall follow. Knowledge is terrorism. An informed public is a dangerous public.

  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:17PM (#21191825) Homepage Journal
    Tomorrow, knowledge. Dangerous times ahead.

    Seems the terrorists have already won, with a minimal expenditure of energy/effort. I still wonder if this was the plan all along, to just nudge the civilized world into self destruction on its own, or just an unexpected side effect worth exploiting. Either way its the same result, but i am curious.
  • by Original Replica ( 908688 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:21PM (#21191857) Journal
    The reason we see such an erosion of our freedoms is that Freedom and Trust go hand in hand. Some of that trust is to be responsible (gun safety), and some of that trust is to respect life and civil society (not a terrorist). That trust is gone, not only between the government and the people, but between neighbors. We wouldn't need all of this "think of the children" shit, if neighbors actually knew and trusted each other. We wouldn't have the highest prison population in the world if the government trusted the people.
  • virtual chem lab (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:24PM (#21191881) Homepage Journal
    Sorry, thats far too sterile to really learn anything.

    Until you burn your fingers on a hot beaker, or smell the reults of your last failed ( or successful ) experiment that catches on fire or cracks the bottom out of your flask, you never really learn. Its all theory without that sort of 'real' experience..
  • by Pedrito ( 94783 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:24PM (#21191885)
    I was lamenting the passing of the hobbiest chemistry sets long before 9/11. You can still get them in various places and you can get a fairly wide selection of chemicals from a number of sources, including e-bay. Hell, I even bought some concentrated (70%) nitric acid off of e-bay not more than a year ago.

    That said, the decline in hobby-level chemistry sets, as I mentioned before, began with the rise in the "new American Dream." You know, the one where you sue somebody for a million dollars. Liability for selling chemistry sets is, without a doubt, astronomical in these days of knee-jerk litigation... Nobody in their right mind would sell something to children that they could easily kill or wound themselves with, quite easily...

    From my own personal history, when I had a chemistry set as a child, it came with glass tubing and an alcohol burner. You used it to heat the tubing and bend it into shapes to connect beakers and what have you together... Well, not being old enough to know better, and not patient enough to wait for the tubing to cool down on its own after bending it, I decided it might be best to cool it off in some water. I consider it fortunate I didn't lose an eye when the glass exploded. And that didn't involve any chemicals... Not that the stuff they provided was terribly dangerous, but it's dangerous enough that it's simply not a viable business anymore, is my point...
  • Re:options (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:26PM (#21191897)
    The summary has nothing to do with TFA. The FBI isn't banning anything -- the only mention is that some states require a background check to purchase chemicals, which the FBI performs.

    Wimpy chemistry sets are nothing new -- it's an overly litigious society, not law that's at fault. I had one in the 80's, that looks a lot like the Discovery Chem-X 1000 on Amazon. Everything had child safety caps, nothing explosive or pyrotechnic, nothing more than slightly toxic. Most of the experiments I remember had to do with color or phase changes.

  • by brxndxn ( 461473 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:26PM (#21191899)
    WTF are the dumbed-down chemistry sets now?

    The old ones were dumb enough. When I got a chemistry set when I was small (something like 60 chemicals), I got bored of all the pre-drawn experiments and decided to experiment myself. I mixed pretty much every goddamn chemical together.. BLUE liquid! yay.. Then, I put some in a test tube and heated it.. and OMG.. it boiled!!! and then.. it smelled like crap! Yay chemistry.. It was like they formulated the entire set to be as unexplosive as possible.

    Fucking nanny state...

    I would've attacked the issue of terrorism the exact opposite. I'd tell everyone to grow some balls, carry a fucking gun, ask suspicious people questions, and be vigilant. And.. everyone can carry whatever the hell they want on a plane. I'd like to see a terrorist just try to hijack a plane when who knows how many people are armed...

    Don't ban chemistry sets.
  • Re:options (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jlarocco ( 851450 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:28PM (#21191923) Homepage

    No offense, but that's pretty lame. Chemistry sets are fun because they're hand on.

    This is just getting ridiculous. I can go down the block and fill my car with 30 gallons of highly flamable/explosive gasoline, but chemistry sets are off limits because they contain a few ounces of potentially dangerous chemicals? Our government is officially retarded.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:29PM (#21191927)

    if the government trusted the people.

    Hmm, with all the "never trust the government" stuff going on nowadays (and proliferated by /.), why should the government treat it's people any different from the way from the people treating the government?

    What goes around, comes around.
  • by Belacgod ( 1103921 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:29PM (#21191931)
    The thought behind this is the same as the one behind Germany's banning of certain computer security tools, and the assaults on cryptography. Dangerous tools exist in every important field, and those with no fear of falling behind will always want to ban more and more. We need another Sputnik moment to galvanize the angry reactionaries to demand more science instead of demanding more childproofing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:30PM (#21191935)
    Yet again we have the same people who accuse the government of fear mongering using their own similar tactics to put a political spin on things. Anyone with any knowledge of the subject knows for a fact that chemistry sets started going safe long before 9/11 or terrorism.
    How about those who supposedly hate modern day administration fear mongering try to not be a bunch of hypocrites and admit that this has been a long time in coming, probably before many slashdotters were even out of high school.
  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:30PM (#21191937) Homepage Journal
    If any one want proof of religious extremism, this is it. The religious fanatics have engineered the so called war on terror to push their own personal beliefs on everyone, limiting freedom and the american way. The examples are endless. Science threatens their belief, so they stifle science. Instead of letting the military dead rest in peace, the picket the funerals []. I have even heard congregants tell me that their pastor bemoaned the increase in mosques in the US, saying that it signified the fall of civilization and the end of security, even though so-called christians seem to have no problem killing innocent women and children [].

    This is not an attack on any group. it is just a reminder that our enemy is religious extremism in any form, and not just those that the extreme religious right might label terrorist. It is science, innovation, and a willingness to take risks that have gotten the US to where it is. We have safety, but we also have risk. For instance, we support research on biological agents even though there is a significant risk. Such research is critical. We allow guns even though guns can pose a risk. We allow drunk drivers to drive again, even though there is a risk. The later is a real eye opener. It is likely that, in the United States, more innocent persons are killed in one year from alcohol related accidents than in the past 10 years of terrorist attacks. In the face of this we spend perhaps half a trillion dollars on the foreign terrorists, but then let these domestic drunk terrorist [] go free.

    We are heading into a dark age in the US. An age where we crawl into our shells, cowards who are to scared to create. As dangerous as it was, I had a real chemistry set when I was a kid, and the familiarity allowed me to excel at classes that others did not. None of the stuff was foreign to me. Just like we give kids toy kitchen sets, and toy guns, and toy cars, and toy phones, so that when they have the real thing that will not be afraid, we must also give the toy science devices. As as they get older, and the kitchen and the gun and the cars get more real, so must the science. Even to the point of a full lab for the home schooler that wants the kid to have a broad education.

  • by drspliff ( 652992 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:34PM (#21191967)
    When you can buy fertiliser, sugar and petrolium by the tonne.

    Oh noes, their going to blow up an air plain with some iron filings, potassium permanganate and some magnesium! Or use the test tubes to start up a methamphetamine lab!

    Do you know why I cringe when I hear these stories? Because their going after the wrong thing with the wrong tactics, chemistry sets have long been a way to inspire kids about the stuff, some just don't get it, but others get an opportunity they otherwise wouldn't have to kickstart the process and get the interested and passionate about physics/chemistry at an early age.

    Personally I'd rather see biochemistry sets/guides for kids, grow your own bacteria and such (I found it much more interesting than chemistry), but with the "threat" of anthrax breaking out any minute now I don't think they'd be politically correct (just as it seems limiting chemistry sets is "politically correct" in the US).

    The sorry thing is, it's going to take you a long time to get these implicit rights back after the initial knee-jerk reaction.
  • by Secret Rabbit ( 914973 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:34PM (#21191969) Journal
    I disagree. I think that terrorists very much care about chemistry sets.

    They care that they aren't offered and they care that people are pissed about it. They care about kids having less and less of a chance to educate themselves and they care that kids curiosity isn't being fulfilled nearly as much. They definitely care. They care that the US is becoming a more and more demoralized nation and the educated are having to fight less and less fights that matter and about more and more like this. They care that the people that think are being distracted and rendered useless. Because with them out of way, and with the idiots that are in power today, the current situation will favour them more and more and...

    Take care of the thinkers of tomorrow, take care of the thinkers of today and take care that the terrorists are very very happy about this.
  • by captainwisdom ( 1182145 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:34PM (#21191971)
    Bull, the chemistry sets were dumbed down long before 9-11. Anti-terrorism has nothing to do with it. It's all about chem-set manufacturers getting sued (by armies of trial lawyers) and the liberal nanny state "protecting" our kids.
  • by webmaster404 ( 1148909 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:35PM (#21191981)
    Seems similar to the RIAA and MPAA, something that Could be used to "pirate" music or make explosives we should ban!!! Be it BitTorrent, or chemistry sets, the only one that loses is the consumer, next I guess they will ban the internet or the selling of computers because as we know you can learn things that are illegal on the computer and you can rip CDs to put on your MP3 Player 111 *shift* !1!
  • by weighn ( 578357 ) <weighn AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:38PM (#21191999) Homepage

    if the government trusted the people.
    why should the government treat it's people any different from the way from the people treating the government?
    What goes around, comes around.
    OK, I'm confused. Don't you guys, the shining light of Global Democracy, have a saying regarding governance "By the people, for the people"?
  • Re:options (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArcherB ( 796902 ) * on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:48PM (#21192075) Journal
    I had several chemistry sets as a kid and spent many, many hours conducting experiments, often to my own harm (poisonous gases, chloral hydrate, etc...:-) High school chemistry almost got me arrested, and led in part to my expulsion from public school.

    And this is the problem. It's not terrorism that is causing these things to disappear. It's the fact that we've become a nanny state, and it's not conservatives that are the cause! You can't get toys for your kids that may have pointed edge. You can't get toys for your kids that may fit down a wind pipe or break off into sharp pieces. This isn't because of GW Bush, it's because of lawyers. Any time a kid gets hurt by a toy, the company gets sued into oblivion, whether it was the company's fault or not! It becomes cheaper to settle out of court for $100,000 than it does not fight it out.

    Chemistry sets are hard to find for the same reason that sling shots are hard to find. It's not because they present a terrorism threat, it's because they are dangerous. The first time some kid mixes something that he wasn't supposed to makes an explosive, corrosive mixture that "puts an eye out", the company that made that kit gets sued. If it were about terror, this would be an article about how hard it is to find good pool chemicals!

    It's the same nannies that want to tell you that you can't smoke in your house, or you can't have a big mac or supersize your fries. These people don't usually tend to be conservatives. It's happens to be the people that say things like, "we are going to take things away from you for the common good."
  • by riprjak ( 158717 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:49PM (#21192079)
    I dunno, building explosives and detonating trees in the sandhills and mailboxes in the neighbourhood kept me happily grounded for a lot of months when I was a kid. And since fireworks werent available readily in Australia when I grew up, we used chemistry sets to make it all...

    And now kids are denied that joy! I wouldnt be the Engineer (and safety nazi) I am today without those experiences.

    Once again the terrorists win a strategic victory against western society, yet another one given them with the explicit aid of a western government. In WWII we hung people for giving aid and comfort to the enemy...

  • Answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Morosoph ( 693565 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:55PM (#21192137) Homepage Journal

    why should the government treat it's people any different from the way from the people treating the government?
    Because the Government exists for the people. It has no other purpose. Asymmetry follows from that.
  • They succeeded. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dreemernj ( 859414 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:59PM (#21192157) Homepage Journal
    The terrorists have successfully attacked our imagination.
  • by GuyverDH ( 232921 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @11:03PM (#21192185)
    Don't forget, that now even Jr. High School students in the US are being asked to declare their Majors so that they can be narrowly channeled into their chosen field of study.

    Sorry, you wanted to be a mechanic, no home economics for you. Or, oh... too bad you selected accountant, now you can't get that particle physics minor you so badly wanted.

    Today's government wants all knowledge compartmentalized so that no one, and I mean no one, outside of the government can get the clear picture of what's going on.

    Want to get into a hobby? It had better be along the lines of what you went to college for, otherwise they'll start to watch you on suspicion of being a terrorist. Showing an interest in an activity outside of your major, oooh - watchout, you've made the FBI's watch list again.

    Jack of all trades are a dying breed. Specialization guarantees that the government is the only entity that really knows what's going on, just the way they want it to be.

    Just think, if the government had started down this path 20 years ago, most of us would be specialists who grunt when someone talks about something that we didn't go to school for. Or worse yet, we'd call the cops if someone tried to teach us something outside of our specialty.

    This is how periods of history like the dark ages start. By restricting knowledge so that the masses are not allowed to be fully educated, you guarantee that knowledge will begin to stagnate (only when certain types of knowledge intermingle with others are truly radical discoveries usually possible), and eventually disappear, sometimes forever.

  • by PortHaven ( 242123 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @11:07PM (#21192203) Homepage
    I've seen this trend for a while, and it predates 9-11.

    I believe the issue is more of a "legal" than "security" issue. I think the high risk of lawsuits is what's killing these kits. In the old days, if you let your kids be unsupervized and they started eating the chemicals - you were considered a bad parent with a stupid kid. Now days, parents tell the kids to eat the chemicals in hopes of a winning lawsuit so they don't have to work anymore.

    How many classic toys have gone the way of the dino because of our stupid frivolous legal system and lack of responsibility culture. I mean, Burger King/McDonald's (one of the two) had these flying princesses. They spin, their wings fly out and they whirl into the sky like helicopters. "Recalled and banned!" Why? Because they're uber dangerous. The fly toy might just land on the child's head. We can't have that. (Not like a baseball isn't a 100x more deadly - but we're not going to ban those.)

    Bah...this plan deserves to be turned into an intergalactic entranceway.
  • by myth_of_sisyphus ( 818378 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @11:12PM (#21192233)
    I was at the pharmacy when an old codger asked for some Claritin for allergies. He was obviously stuffed up.

    The pharmacist asked for a CA driver's license. He said he doesn't drive anymore but has his VA card. She wouldn't sell it to him. Said she had to put the CA driver's license number in the database. No other's allowed.

    A veteran of WWII or perhaps Korea couldn't buy a fucking harmless medication because he doesn't have the right ID? I couldn't fucking believe it... Was he going to go back to the old-folks home and set up a meth lab with a box of Claritin? Jebus fucking H goddamn shit.

    (This country disgusts me more and more. We should storm something in Guy Faulke's masks. )
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @11:12PM (#21192243)
    I'd say the catchphrase of the US feds today is rather "Do as I say, don't do as I do".
  • Re:options (Score:2, Insightful)

    by carlos92 ( 682924 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @11:14PM (#21192255)
    Next thing we know cars will have the fuel tank locked and only a government official will be able to extract gasoline from your car.
  • Maybe this is why (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @11:18PM (#21192267)
    In Texas - you need to register to use lab apparatus like condensor, flasks etc whereas you don't need to register for handgun - []
    I have used half the apparatus mentioned in the above list.

    No wonder home chemistry sets are dying. The priorities are messed up.

    Just an afterthought:
    Do we sue the gun makers when people get shot.....
    My head just exploded.
  • by SixFactor ( 1052912 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @11:18PM (#21192269) Journal
    Oh, this is beyond the misleading title. This is more like stirring the pot, and rasslin' up some FUD. The funny thing is, the blog cited by the the anonymous reader does a decent job of attributing the difficulty of obtaining chemicals not just on the government, but on more economic factors, like liability concerns on the part of the chem set manufacturers and sellers. The money quote:

    If a ladder manufacturer is under a constant barrage of liability suits, imagine the torrent of litigation directed to those giving a child a set of potentially dangerous chemicals. Its a CHILD, for God's sake. [Oh, I'm sorry, for a minute there I was waxing Democrat.]

    Further, if you follow the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) link that's found on the blog, you'll find significant criticism of the ATF's enforcement of the Safe Explosives Act, which apparently has been less than effective. From the link:

    The SEA was implemented to enhance public safety by expanding the ATF's licensing authority to include the intrastate manufacture, purchase, and use of explosives.2 The SEA also expanded the categories of "prohibited persons" to be denied access to explosives from four to seven. The new prohibited persons categories are aliens (with limited exceptions), persons who have been dishonorably discharged from the military, and individuals who have renounced their United States citizenship. These categories were added to the pre-existing categories of prohibited persons that included felons, fugitives, users of and persons addicted to controlled substances, and persons who have been adjudicated mentally defective or committed to mental institutions.

    In addition, the SEA required that proprietors, owners, and corporate officers of companies that manufacture, sell, or import explosives submit fingerprint cards and photographs to the ATF with their license applications. It also mandated that the ATF inspect licensees' manufacturing and storage facilities at least once every three years. Finally, the SEA required the ATF to conduct background checks on all licensees, as well as all employees who have access to explosives as part of their work (Employee Possessors).3 In order to identify all prohibited persons, the ATF entered into an agreement with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to perform these background checks.4

    The SEA did not change the explosives types subject to the ATF's licensing authority,as defined in 18 U.S.C. 841, and it did not increase the number of explosives under the ATF's control. Most notably, it did not extend the ATF's regulatory authority over ammonium nitrate or other common chemicals that, when combined, become explosives.

    But hey, the usual emotional (help! help! I'm being oppressed!) response was obtained.
  • by Pingmaster ( 1049548 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @11:24PM (#21192309)
    I can't agree with that more. I love tinkering with electronic gadgets, as a kid I used to take apart RC cars and make stuff with the motors. One of the first lessons I learned was to check for short circuits when I burned my fingers connecting a wire to a shorted battery terminal. I learned to wear safety goggles, and to pour chemicals carefully when I splashed a chem set experiment in my eye (that stung!). I learned to cut away from myself when I sliced my finger open while building a model car. You can't learn that sort of stuff from a virtual chem/electronic/modelling program. Besides, at an age where you learn best by getting your hands dirty, clicking a mouse just doesn't cut it.

    The excuse that 'Terrorists' use the chem sets for bombs and chemical warfare is ridiculous. If they are used for malicious purpose, it's more likely from your average neighbourhood punk kid making a smoke bomb or something similar. People wanting to cause REAL harm will be busy getting Ammonium Nitrate (fertilier) and Diesel (makeshift ANFO, a powerful explosive), or gunpowder, or Javex and Drano (cheap and easy way to get mustard gas) and causing all sorts of deadly havoc that way. one must wonder if DHS took the anarchist's cookbook a little too seriously..maybe next week, they'll be banning 3.25" floppies because you can embed match heads in them to cook floppy drives..
  • by anandamide ( 86527 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @11:25PM (#21192317)
    Until you accidentally break a kilogram bottle of TiCl4 while unloading it from your friend's truck, creating a giant cloud of opaque white fumes, you'll never really learn... how to explain things diplomatically to your Dad.
    Now *that* was a chemistry set! Sigh.
  • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) * on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @11:27PM (#21192331) Journal
    Surprised chemistry sets didn't go this route long ago, what with their potential to put together explosives approaching that of a couple firecrackers combined! Warm fuzzies.

    I hate to rant about good intentions, but these don't even smell like good intentions any more. Terrorists couldn't care less about chemistry sets.

    Right! Terrorists couldn't care less about chemistry sets. The Feds know this. First, chemistry sets were not banned, they were neutered. They were neutered long before 9-11. It has nothing to do with terrorism. It has everything to do with liability.

    I understand that it's cool to bash the president and blame Bush for everything. However, this is not one of those cases. This isn't Bush's fault. If anything, it's John Edwards, or at least lawyers. Chemistry sets are hard to find for the same reason that slingshots are hard to find, because they can be dangerous in the wrong hands, kid's hands.

    The people that are banning "dangerous" chemicals in chemical sets are the same people that forced MacDonald's to stop asking you if you wanted it "super sized", and the same people that are trying to ban you from smoking in a bar, or your car, and in your home, and outside... and so on. It's the same people who make planters put a label on a bag of peanuts that says, "danger, contains peanuts". It's the people that mandate seat belts and motorcycle helmets. These people are not conservatives (although there are some conservative nannies that say I can't drink beer in a bar after 2:00am). Nope! These are the same people that say things like "We are going to take things away from you for the common good".

    Googling "nanny state chemistry set" took me to this [] article from the NY times. It's in response to an op-ed piece about the removal of chemistry sets. The article date, May 13, 1999. About 2.25 years BEFORE 9-11 and BEFORE the War on Terror. So, please, stop blaming this on Bush or the War On Terror. This was happening long before any of that!

    From TFA:

    [Author's Note: This article is primarily a result of my frustration in trying to acquire a few hundred grams of potassium carbonate for an electrolyte solution.]
    I understand the author's frustration, but he should really know who's at fault before he passes blame. If banning chemsitry sets were about keeping dangerous chemicals out of the hands of terrorists, then Clorox bleach, Windex, and pool chemicals would have been banned with it.

    Sorry, but TFA is just plain wrong.
  • Re:Answer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SamP2 ( 1097897 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @11:33PM (#21192383)
    Can you elaborate how exactly "assymetry follows from that"?

    The government is nothing but a representation, by and for the people. If the people are the bunch of fearmongering neighbor-haters, so will be the government. Of course, the government has more power, so the problems are much more noticeable, but in the end it just acts like an amplifier - garbage in, (much louder) garbage right back out.

    Maybe the people should start looking for the source of the government problems in their own behavior, rather than just pointing fingers (finger-pointing is another people's feature brilliantly represented by the government)
  • by Jarjarthejedi ( 996957 ) <> on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @11:36PM (#21192421) Journal
    There are still 100-in-1's out there, they're no less common (where I am) than they were when I was kid and first got one of them. Boy was that a lot of fun.

    Chemistry kits can be a lot more dangerous than a lot of other toys, give one of those old ones to a kid who doesn't know what they're doing and whose parents are too busy to spend any time with the kid and they're liable to injure themselves. That's the main reason they've been going out of style, it's pretty hard for little Johnny to hurt himself with a My First (Plastic with rubber spring tip) Hammer, or Pong, the Board Game (Seriously, can anyone here tell me they wouldn't buy that if it was a reasonable price?), but with a Chemistry kit there's probably a few ways they can injure themselves at min, and the law of probabilities shows how, no matter how low the probability of any kid hurting themselves is, some kid will, and some parent will sue.

    I mean, just look at what the article itself says, the author admits to having to evacuate his house because he was making free chlorine gas. Now tell me, what are the odds that any modern parent would just let something like that slide vs. suing the company for damages?

    Home Chemistry kits are going away, but not because of Anti-Terrorism laws. There are plenty of chemicals that you can get without a background check that will do some fun things, but they can also be quite harmful to you and since every toy has to be made so that little Johnny slow can use it without any chance of hurting themselves. I mean, you can make Thermite without using a single background-check needed ingredient (my friend did it once for fun, pretty cool), so why isn't that in the 'pathetic' chemistry kits? Oh right, because no parent would trust their kid with Thermite and would most certainly sue if their kid could make it and hurt themselves.
  • I call bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @11:36PM (#21192423) Journal
    Are chemistry sets getting crappier? Of COURSE they are! When I was growing up in the 1970s, the best I could get was a pale imitation of the ones my dad had in the garage. Now we're a generation along, and the ones I had look like danger waiting to be used. It has absolutely nothing to do with terrorism, and everything to do with the obsessive culture of safety.

    TFA is a big, steaming pile of shit. Read it carefully, and you'll find there's not a single 'explanation' of why things are the way they are that holds water.

    It's just a grumpy twit with a computer. Nothing to see here.
  • by Garridan ( 597129 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @11:37PM (#21192429)
    Read the Declaration of Independence.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
    The people have zero reason to trust the government. The government exists to secure our rights, and it is the duty of the citizens of any democracy to keep an ever-watchful eye on the government. Damn right we don't trust the government. Love your country, love your fellow man, but for shit's sake, watch your back.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @11:37PM (#21192433)
    I find it really ironic that The Current Administration(sic) decided on muslims as their scapegoat..
    Until the 13th or 14th century BC, Islam had the best and most prolific scientists in the world. For example, Ibn al-Haytham (965 - 1039), is responsible for the modern theories of optics as well as the modern Scientific Method, with an emphasis on quantification and reproducible, observable results.
    The decline of science in medieval Islam was due to many factors, but probably the most significant was the political maneuvering of the Ash'arites. They held that humans were personally incapable of accurate moral reasoning, and must therefore look to the Qur'an for moral guidance. They specifically mistrusted reason and evidence, following certain truths and ignoring others.

    why do i find all this ironic?

    Dogma. As you said, this is how dark ages begin.
  • by kcbrown ( 7426 ) <> on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @11:39PM (#21192451)

    They care that the people that think are being distracted and rendered useless. Because with them out of way, and with the idiots that are in power today, the current situation will favour them more and more and...

    If by "them" you mean the people who are in power, then this comment is spot on. If by "them" you mean those most people think of as "terrorists" then those "terrorists" are idiots of the worst kind.


    Simple: because the government in charge of an oppressive police state is even more interested in power and control, and less interested in what anyone else thinks, than the government in charge of a democratic republic. And the more interested in power and control a given government is, the more such power and control it wants, which means it will attempt to expand and exert control over ever larger regions. Including the regions the "terrorists" inhabit.

    If the "terrorists" think things are "bad" now, just wait until they're dealing with a government that really doesn't give a fuck about what they or anyone else thinks. As in at all. With a democratic republic, the "terrorists" at least have a chance of getting through to that republic's government through the people it governs. With a fascist totalitarian state, they have no such option at all.

    Fascist totalitarian states have no trouble with steamrolling over anyone they want. Including "terrorists". They won't think twice about it, and they won't listen to anyone's argument against it, except those who are at least as well armed as they are. And that ain't the "terrorists". Against a fascist totalitarian U.S. (which isn't there yet but is really close now, I think), that's damned few countries, actually.

    So if the aim of the "terrorists" is their own destruction, then they are well on their way towards accomplishing their goals.

    In other words, the terrorists haven't won. They've lost. And so have we. The only people who have "won" are those who are already rich and powerful.

    "Terrorists". Bah. Fucking morons...

  • Re:Answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cHiphead ( 17854 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @11:58PM (#21192589)
    The framers of the US constitution were keenly aware that in a democracy, sometimes the tyranny of the majority would threaten the few and added protections as such, but failed to build strong enough protections into it for when the tyranny from a few would threaten the majority, as we have now.
  • by orkysoft ( 93727 ) <orkysoft AT myrealbox DOT com> on Thursday November 01, 2007 @12:10AM (#21192701) Journal
    You misread the GP's entire post. It has nothing to do with explosions, just with the fear of them.
  • by r00t ( 33219 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @12:18AM (#21192777) Journal
    The kid isn't learning chemistry. The kid just mixes up random crap, hoping for something exciting to happen.

    Even with an old-style set, interesting reactions are rare. If you are "lucky" enough to get one, you might get hurt... but you don't really learn the chemistry behind it. You aren't learning about orbitals, ions, electronegativity, and all those other things. At best you learn that mixing two items, of which you understand nothing, will do something beyond just sitting there.

    Pretty soon, you run out of chemicals. The useful ones run out first.

    That's not much education, and not even much entertainment. That's just lame.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 01, 2007 @12:20AM (#21192793)
    If their goal is truly to establish an Islamic state over the whole US, then I'd like to have some of what they're smoking, because no drug I have ever tried (and I've tried most of them) has ever led me to such nonsensical thoughts. It will never ever happen, it is so far from happening as to be more realstic that, oh, I dunno, turkeys are REALLY made out of blue feces, and, oh yeah, and the terrorists' current tactics (namely, terrorism) produces the exact opposite of what you claim they are demanding - that is, rather than a sympathy for their position (sympathy for the devil), instead a hardening against them.

    Are there really people in the world THAT stupid? I've met smarter rocks than that.

    Oh, and the way to fight them is simple - fight religion.
  • by Gryle ( 933382 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @12:25AM (#21192823)
    The more I read about the state of science education, the more grateful I am to the teachers I had over the years. My chemistry teacher poured his heart into teaching his students, not just about chemistry, but how to educate themselves. He would routinely have us design experiments to verify or explore something we had learned in class. For the final, we were given a week to identify twenty unknown chemicals using the lab techniques we had learned and a stack of reference books. Sadly, he was "retired" by the school district after using some choice words in his description of and arguments against one of the school board's more asinine proposals
  • by starX ( 306011 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @12:40AM (#21192933) Homepage

    (This country disgusts me more and more. We should storm something in Guy Faulke's masks. )

    Alternatively, you could, I don't know:

    1) Write your representative.

    2) Write your senators.

    3) Organize an issues based campaign

    4) Vote for someone who shares your point of view on an issue

    5) Run for office yourself.

    Look, all of it perfectly legal, and just as important, actually has a chance of succeeding. If you storm a federal building in any mask, you're just going to wind up dead or in prison.

    Or does that sound like too much work? Would you rather piss and moan about it on Slashdot? Might feel good for a moment, but it's all sound and fury signifying nothing.
  • Re:options (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SageMusings ( 463344 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @12:41AM (#21192941) Journal
    My personal feeling is good chemistry sets are hard to find because....people aren't buying them. They cannot compete with an X-box or Playstation. Don't forget today's children have incredibly short attention spans and scholarly pursuit is the hallmark of a pariah in many circles.

    In short, I think it is simple economics. If kids developed a craze for chemistry, manufacturers would most assuredly find a way to sell advanced sets, lawyers be damned. If we can give johnny a hunting rifle (we can), we can give him a Bunsen burner. All you need is demand. Also don't forget many parents today are the same mouth-breathers you sat next to in class years ago. Why would these people seek science toys for their kids when many barely got out of high school?
  • Re:options (Score:3, Insightful)

    by causality ( 777677 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @12:42AM (#21192949)

    The first time some kid mixes something that he wasn't supposed to makes an explosive, corrosive mixture that "puts an eye out", the company that made that kit gets sued.

    Sure, lawyers profit from this and politicians talk a big game about how much they care about your safety. And do you know what is at the root of this, the one factor that allows all of the rest to happen? Parents -- specifically, parents who either don't want to do their job or don't know how. A kid who uses something like a chemistry set under the supervision of his parents, who take the time to instruct him in what is safe and what is not and why this is so, and show by example (the only correct way to do so) how to be responsible and how to correctly manage something that could be a danger if mismanaged, and show the kid what it means to have a healthy respect for things, is not going to blow the house up and is not going to lose an eye. If this means keeping the chemistry set under lock and key to make sure that this happens, then so be it, but that probably won't be necessary because a child who is treated this way is likely to respect his parents for reasons other than "they might punish me" and will appreciate this kind of instruction and trust.

    Chemistry sets aren't the only casualties in this stupid attempt to shift the burden of raising children from the parents to the society at large by trying to neuter every last thing and remove all potential for any harm and honestly, I'm sick of it. Whenever I hear about a child getting hurt with, say, fireworks, my first thought is not "damn those evil fireworks"; it's "where were the parents when this happened?" No matter what you do, shit happens to some degree, but it's amazing how preventable almost all of these incidents really are and how reluctant most people are to admit this. I realize that having and caring for children is a very tough job, but that's not a reason to force everyone else to suffer, it's a reason to not have them until you're prepared to be fully responsible for them.
  • Re:Answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by glittalogik ( 837604 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @12:49AM (#21192993)
    If you have a bulletproof vest, but the bullets start ignoring it for the sake of making holes in you, it ain't bulletproof.
  • by nephridium ( 928664 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @01:14AM (#21193111)
    The "terrorists" (if you like to go ahead and put them all into the same category like the government does) care for what is happening on they own turf much more than what is happening in a far away country. It's just that you've been made to believe that their sole reason for blowing up stuff is because "they hate your freedom"(tm) and your way of life, while in the case of most Arab terrorists they are usually much more pissed off at the presence of American (and other foreign) bases, companies and soldiers on land that they deem to be "Arab" land. They couldn't care less about what's happening half way around the globe.

    It's actually more or less the same all over the world - most people don't care about what's happening half way around the world (most of the time they don't even know about what's happening in neighboring countries) - at least, it seems, until someone from half way around the globe comes over and makes a big explosion (or more), then apparently people start "to care". With the right media direction this can be converted to a general sentiment of "Well, if the come over and blow stuff up here, we'll go over and blow stuff up there!" - rinse and repeat...
  • by DavidTC ( 10147 ) <<moc.xobreven> ... .vidavsxd54sals>> on Thursday November 01, 2007 @01:14AM (#21193115) Homepage

    Have fun in your little made-up universe where the government comes to round you up and you manage to fight it off.

    In the real world, fascism is when the corporations and governments work as a single entity, and you can wander around with your fucking gun all you want. In fact, you'll have to wander around, because the government/corporations took your house and your car, and no one will hire you.

    At which point you'll be arrested, not as some big anti-government hero by jackboot thugs, but for stealing bread to live on, by a perfectly normal cop who's just doing his job, a job that absolutely no one except you disagrees with, so when you shoot and kill him you're getting the electric chair and no one thinks you're a hero at all.

    There are different types of totalitarian governments, and assuming a fascist one operates like a communist one is faulty. Fascist governments don't put troops in the streets...they work with corporations to make sure 'the wrong sort of people' do not have any economic power, and do not have anywhere to peddle their ideas.

    Modern fascist states don't even bother to kill those people, and pretending they're going to show up in some stormtrooper outfit and start a gun battle with you is insane. They'll show up with a court order to evict you from your home because you failed to pay your mortgage, because pressure came from the top at your company to let you go. Or they'll just sue you and ruin your finances.

    America is not a bunch of tiny castles where, as long as you can hold off the invading armies, you will be fine. The idea that that is how the world works is astonishingly naive. Almost all the population of America lives in housing they do not fully own, they get food from places they do not control like the supermarket, they require operating in society for money to obtain said food and shelter, a society where economics are controlled by some very large players that can crush them like bugs.

    And a fascist state isn't going to 'assume control', you asshat. There's not going to some insane coup, there's a going to be a slow change, which has, in fact, already happened, or have you not looked at the telecom immunity stuff? That's classic fascism. The government breaks the law, the government gets private companies to break the law, the government gives said companies huge amounts of cash, the government attempts to make such behavior legal retroactively. We've got government officials and AT&T officers leaping back and forth between each other in an incestuous loop. Your government spying on you, sponsored by AT&T. It's not 'totalitarian' yet, as evidenced by the fact Democrats managed to stop the immunity, but it is fascism, at least the start of it. (And the same thing's happened with Blackwater.)

    Oh, and before you start ranting about gun control some more, be forewarned I'm against it. I'm just not stupid enough to think that the US government being slowly corrupted by business is something that can be fought off with gunpowder. Guns are useful to deter crime and to deter invasion. They aren't useful against a corrupt government in any meaningful way.

  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @01:21AM (#21193161) Homepage Journal

    You're forgetting the best Jefferson quote of all:

    The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

    This tends to be the eventual result when a government goes down the path of tyranny (or at least what a significant portion of the population believes is tyranny).

  • by Usquebaugh ( 230216 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @01:34AM (#21193225)
    You small minded, ignorant fool.

    Freedom has nothing to do with trust. Freedom is that which you grant yourself. Nothing can take your freedom unless you capitulate. Of course you can debate that without life freedom is meaningless but life without freedom is not worth living. I mean true freedom not some legally imposed cage that you deem large enough.

    The government should continually live in fear of the people. It only exists because the people allow it and fund it. The current state of affairs in the US is one of the saddest in recorded history. A country built on the ideals of freedom and liberty is being destroyed. Not as Orwell predicted by an over bearing state but rather as Huxley predicted because the citizens do not care about anything except being entertained. The collapse of Rome will be nothing compared to the implosion of the United States.

    Understand this, the current situation is preciseley because the government does not fear the people. They have shown themselves to be cowards and sheep afraid even to ask questions let alone think of answers. Think back to how Bush et al obtained power. Think about 10% of the population owning 90% of the wealth. Think about what the constitution says of government and how government has undermined the constitution at evey oppurtunity. Trial without peers, lawyers, due process, habeous corpus. etc. etc.

    And you, parrot some trite shite you probably heard on PBS. Freedom and trust go hand in hand, I'd call it moronic except morons know better.

  • by turing_m ( 1030530 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @01:49AM (#21193313)
    Or you could do what actually works and use your own media network to influence people, systematically evaluate which candidates will vote the way you want them to, and fund/advertise the more pliant ones.

    You just need a few billion dollars to get the ball rolling. Good luck.
  • by alizard ( 107678 ) <> on Thursday November 01, 2007 @01:54AM (#21193339) Homepage
    Straight loratidine isn't a problem. It's the version with ephedrine (Claritin D) which is one of the precursors for meth that's behind the counter. Whether or not regular Claritin would have worked for the guy or not is something I have no idea about. The regular product works just fine for me, and there's a bottle of the generic in my bedroom right now.
  • by McFadden ( 809368 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @02:29AM (#21193509)
    I think your comment indirectly says it all. America, land of liberty, where it's dangerous to buy a child's chemistry set, but an enshrined right to buy a gun.
  • by adatepej ( 1154117 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @02:43AM (#21193553)
    ...already illegal. And, oh yeah, make it legal for adult human beings to make their own firecrackers a safe distance from other humans. If you blow someone up, that's illegal, though. That'll punish people who hurt others, while leaving us free to do chemistry (or make firecrackers and do drugs). Making meth in your apartment? Illegal. Making it in your home on 20 acres? Legal. Now we can buy Sudafed again.

    Did you know that the ingredient in Adderall is amphetamine? So... they make the 8 year olds take amphetamine, but the 30 year olds have to show their ID to take Claritin, for the fear that some other 30 year old (or 8 year old) might actually get his hands on some methamphetamine. (Of course, the 8 year old is already on amphetamine, so...)

    We could even do drugs while making firecrackers with our chemistry set -- a safe distance from others. Why? 'Cause we're adults in what would be (and should be) a free country! We could even take some pills to die if we were sick (rather than have the Congress investigate just how mushy and/or non-existent my brain-dead brain is because of some Christian dictum that is unapologetically introduced into the dialogue by successful politicians into the political process in our supposedly secular country to limit our freedom. It's absurd. They won't stop -- whether it's guarding the state (unsuccessfully) at the expense of essential liberty, or imposing Christian morality through legislation, they just don't quit.) ...And if someone got blown up? Well, it'd happen. It'd be a lot rarer than the deaths from stress and boredom whatnot that are brought on by the stress of living in an unfree and increasingly police-state-like world, I'd wager. But it'd happen. You know what? It would be sad. And if someone else did it to him, we'd put him in jail. Sure, we could've stopped every single other person from making firecrackers, but then we wouldn't have our freedom. And, to top it off, the people who really wanted to blow people up -- which is most of the people who'd blow people up even if it were legal to make firecrackers -- are going to do it even if it's illegal to possess the necessary equipment. Guess what? They don't care -- cause they were going to do something illegal (and truly criminal) anyways.

    So... what are we left with? A world without freedom AND with the same problems. A couple more fingers on hands, but no fewer terrorists and a lot more exploding meth labs. (More than the roughly ZERO you'd encounter if we legalized drugs for adults. We could stop giving serious drugs to kid, too. Or at least stop letting government controlled public schools force relatively healthy ADD kids to take drugs. Basically, if the medicine the government thinks that what a kid needs is speed, the problem isn't serious enough that they should have the power to force him to take amphetamines!! Feed the kids speed, and don't let the adults get at decongestants that could be used to make speed. Brilliant.)

    Has anyone else thought of this, or was it just me?

    It seems like they think that because the world is dangerous, we must reduce freedoms to try to mitigate that.

    How odd! It's not practical (because we barely put a mark on the danger factor) and it's hateful towards everything I thought decent adult human beings were about. Namely FREEDOM! Freedom, to live this -- you do remember, it's the only one we get? -- life. One try. And someone else is going to tell me how I must spend it if I want to live outside of a cage. Thanks. Do not pass go. Do not collect two hundred dollars.

    This is America, WHAT HAPPENED TO FREEDOM!

    "Those who would sacrifice essential liberties for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
    - Benjamin Franklin

    We've really f'ed it up, people were so inattentive and complacent, that they let the government take our freedom. Unbelievable. And now they have the technology to do it.

    Why couldn't I have been born 150 years ago???? I could've used drugs for 70 years, and mad
  • Re:Answer (Score:2, Insightful)

    by R3dsh1ft ( 1182663 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @02:46AM (#21193563) Homepage
    I've always wanted to ask the people in Washington - The President, the Senate, the House - What happened to our representative government? Why is it that none of our elected officials are acting on our behalf, as is their purpose? We elect people, and are then subject to what they think needs to be done, instead of acting on the concerns and wishes of their constituents. It's not right.
  • by Moridineas ( 213502 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @03:25AM (#21193735) Journal
    What an absolutely insular view!

    I disagree. I think that terrorists very much care about chemistry sets.
    You think OBL cares about a chemistry set? You think Ahmadi-Nejad / Hamas / Hezballah / al-Qa'ida whatever group of the day you want to talk about cares about a chemistry set? Do you REALLY think that they are sitting around plotting different ways of subtly limiting American's civil rights? I think that's absolutely bonkers.

    They care that they aren't offered and they care that people are pissed about it.
    Show me any evidence, anywhere, that anyone / group / whatever is even aware of this as an issue? I'll accept any evidence at all.

    They care about kids having less and less of a chance to educate themselves and they care that kids curiosity isn't being fulfilled nearly as much.
    So the same people who blew up the Buddha's at Bamian and prefer for women to not be educated care about American kid's educations? Ok, well maybe I'll buy that--they would rather everyone study Islamic education first and foremost.

    They definitely care. They care that the US is becoming a more and more demoralized nation and the educated are having to fight less and less fights that matter and about more and more like this.
    Can't quite parse what you're saying here?

    They care that the people that think are being distracted and rendered useless. Because with them out of way, and with the idiots that are in power today, the current situation will favour them more and mootere and...
    Ah yes, because with al-Qa'ida's leadership in Iraq being popped off every couple months, gains being made there, the Taliban strongly beat back in Afghanistan, and crackdowns across Europe and the rest of the world, things truly have never been better for Islamists. Victory! Of course, very good of you to get in your jabs about the people you don't agree with being stupid--the last refuge of those without evidence to make their points, insult their opponents' intelligence...

    Take care of the thinkers of tomorrow, take care of the thinkers of today and take care that the terrorists are very very happy about this.

    I think restrictions on chemistry sets are every bit as moronic and f'ed up as you do, but if you think this is what drives Islamists worldwide, I'd say you are both amazingly naive and uninformed.

  • by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @03:47AM (#21193803) Journal

    Not as Orwell predicted by an over bearing state but rather as Huxley predicted because the citizens do not care about anything except being entertained. The collapse of Rome will be nothing compared to the implosion of the United States.
    Especially with China patiently waiting for it to happen.

    Yet Another Benjamin Franklin Quote (YABFQ)...

    "In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution, with all its faults, -- if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people, if well administered; and I believe, farther, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other."

    The corporatisation of America has played a big part, the question is, Is there a way back? What will make the average person decide to stand up for their freedom when all they have to do is vote, not die or fight, just understand the issues and vote. War used to be a thing the entire nation had to make a sacrifice for, now it's a distraction funded by other countries in the form of loans.

    Clearly your comments illustrate that you are a rational person, with the ability to sense reality for what it is. That is why you will be one of the first sentenced to sedition and shot. Of course that reminds me of YABFQ...

    We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.

  • by NeilTheStupidHead ( 963719 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @04:20AM (#21193897) Journal

    What will make the average person decide to stand up for their freedom
    The cancellation of American Idol, Survivor and the rest of the 'reality' programming tripe I fear.
  • by arodland ( 127775 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @04:23AM (#21193911)

    OK, I'm confused. Don't you guys, the shining light of Global Democracy, have a saying regarding governance "By the people, for the people"?
    Yes. It's a fantastic lie and pretty much always has been. Democracy, as practiced in the real world, isn't a way to give power to the people. It's a way to give token power to the people, in order that those in positions of real power can draw more and more of it to themselves without also drawing complaint.

    I mean, really, just look at the awesome power of the voting public. In a country where two-thirds of the population feel that the "leader of the free world' is doing an unsatisfactory job, we have the power to
    • Elect a bunch of incompetent nitwits (and some as-yet-undiscovered evil bastards) to the legislature to replace a crop of more competent types, on the grounds that an ineffective government will at least screw you more slowly;
    • Suffer quietly for years, waiting for the opportunity to choose from among two carefully-groomed replacements, one of whom is hopefully more acceptable than the current leader -- at least, to 50.01% of the people (less if you factor in the "electoral college" system of electing a US president which says you really only need the support of twenty-some percent of voters to win),
    • But given a field that narrow, we can't expect to find anyone we support on a broad range of issues. Instead, it's critical to rabidly focus on a single hot topic.
    • Bah, who am I kidding? It's not about issues, it's about character.
    • And by character, I mean the right clothes, a winning smile, and never giving a frank opinion within earshot of a tape recorder. Oh, and I hear lapel pins are a biggie.

    A method that would allow us to choose between more than two players would, of course, be too complicated for us wielders of Ultimate Democratic Power to comprehend, as would the possibility of making choices directly related to the issues at hand, instead of merely choosing the least-undesirable candidate and hoping that he or she likes reading your letters. (Referenda don't solve the problem that many things shouldn't be legislated, but should instead be defined by custom and upheld by the community, but that gets even further afield...)
  • by DynamicPhil ( 785187 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @04:23AM (#21193915)
    This is the friggin' best post I've read in a long time.

    The only thing I'd like to add is some general tips on What-to-do(TM)

    Get involved. Write your congressman about invasion of privacy. Sponsor EFF. Develop that über-safe anonymizing program, make it widespread.

    Get Informed. Read stuff (for example Naomi Klein "The Shock Doctrine"), get unbiased news (NOT FOX!), analyze what's being done rather than what's being said. Ask questions (who benifits from this?)

    You need to overcome the denial of what the parent post said about fascism. Just saing "I't ain't so", instead of asking "how do we fix this" - that's a path down a very dark road. Do Something!
  • by hachete ( 473378 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @04:24AM (#21193921) Homepage Journal
    really this is off-topic. The GP is referring to guns making you safe in a conceptual sense, as in Free. You have all the guns you want but that hasn't stopped any administration from suspending or, in Bush's case, destroying habeas corpus or tapping phones or whatever else illegal bullshit they're doing under the cover of executive privilege. In other words, unless you actually use the guns against the government you're pretty much a paper tiger, and, as another poster said, just another arsehole gun-owning nut-job.
  • by Alchemist253 ( 992849 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @05:42AM (#21194183)
    You are missing the point. I AM a chemist. I probably understand orbitals and electronegativity better than most on Slashdot, but I do not fault chemistry sets for not being so directly educational.

    At the age when kids would use chemistry sets (I started when I was about eight), so much underlying information is absent that it is unrealistic to teach real chemistry. You can't truly understand orbitals without quantum mechanics, which in turn requires linear algebra and multivariate calculus. So don't bother! When I played with a chemistry set I didn't understand pH or activity coefficients, but I still appreciated acid-base reactions. Nor had I ever heard of redox reactions or the Nernst equation, but electroplating was cool. Chemistry sets inspired me to study and learn at the meager level I could, and as I grew older and more knowledgeable they undoubtedly played a role in me going into science - and into organic chemistry in particular (with its heavy emphasis on experimental research).

    Chemistry sets are motivators, not educators. They have historically done for chemistry what "Star Trek" has done for physics.
  • by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <sd_resp2.earthshod@co@uk> on Thursday November 01, 2007 @06:16AM (#21194329)
    I hear this argument all the time: that guns in private hands are necessary in case a Bad and Evil Government ever take power. And all the people who lost their lives needlessly are just collateral damage and the death toll would be so much worse if a Bad Government got in.

    I'm sitting here on the other side of the Atlantic and I can only wonder, just how bad does your government have to get before you actually use those guns for what you say you wanted them for?
  • by labnet ( 457441 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @07:15AM (#21194563)
    I agree DynamicPhil, best friggin post all year.
    Hitler was a hero before people realised it was too late.
    America has only just started on the road to true fascism. First there will be the economic crash, and the enusing chaos and poverty.
    Thats been in the works since the 60's when the USA went off the Gold standard and became a fiat currency.
    You embraced globalisation, and your manufacturing has disapeared.
    Notice whats happening to your infrastructure, your dollar, your mortgages.
    Terrorism is the biggest con yet. USA does not have a terrorism problem. 9-11 was not done by Arabs with stanley knives.
    9-11 was the excuse to take away your freedom.

    Dynamic Phil is right, go make some noise.... but you know what.... it won't happen. While the general populace has food in their bellies and their mind numbing TV, nothing will change.

  • by ChristTrekker ( 91442 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @08:02AM (#21194767)

    In other words, unless you actually use the guns against the government you're pretty much a paper tiger, and, as another poster said, just another arsehole gun-owning nut-job.

    But when you do, you're labelled another domestic terrorist gun-owning nut-job.

    Awfully hard for freedom-lovers to stand up against that kind of PR, thanks to the rabidly anti-gun media.

  • by ChristTrekker ( 91442 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @08:07AM (#21194799)

    You miss the point. My 87-year-old arthritic grandfather is still dangerous with a gun. Any would-be burglars or government freedom-grabbers would do well to be afraid of him. If he only had a knife...well, easy pickins.

  • news? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ChristTrekker ( 91442 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @08:10AM (#21194823)

    get unbiased news (NOT FOX!)

    Your mistake is thinking there is such a thing as an unbiased news source. Tip for you: they're all biased. The real thing is exercising a little discernment and critical thinking!

  • by FozE_Bear ( 1093167 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @08:22AM (#21194901)
    There is something to be said for "fear of assassination". Remember, on of Hitler's first acts of power was banning guns. Knowing that flaming nut-jobs can't have easy access to guns is a comforting thought for tyrants.
  • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @09:12AM (#21195295) Homepage
    I agree that the drug protections have gotten out of hand. When my wife and I want to buy some Sudafed for our four-year-old, we are required to sign our names in a book to "prove" that we're not going to turn it into crystal meth. Now I'm no expert in Sudafed-Meth conversions, but I would guess you would need a *TON* of children's Sudafed to make any significant crystal meth. Buying one package wouldn't do it. And what protection does a signed name in a paper book prove? Do all of those names get typed into some computer system by someone? If not, and we were running a crytal meth lab, couldn't we just pharmacy hop to get all of the Sudafed that we needed? Perhaps if someone was buying four or more bottles at once, I could see putting their name in a computerized database, but not writing down their name in a paper book for the purchase of one bottle of Sudafed. That law was obviously just passed to show voters how their incumbant is "doing something" about a problem regardless of whether that something is useful or not.
  • by dogzilla ( 83896 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @09:16AM (#21195339) Homepage
    "The reason we see such an erosion of our freedoms is that Freedom and Trust go hand in hand. "

    No - the reason we see such an erosion of our freedoms is that the so-called American People are a bunch of overfed, sackless sheep who have never experienced hardship, don't know the meaning of the word sacrifice, and as a group are rapidly becoming the stupidest people on earth, yet cling to this myth of individualism and strength in the face of all evidence to the contrary. Twenty or Thirty years ago I would have said that the American People should fight to regain their lost power. Today, it's clear that giving the American People any kind of power would be the biggest unmitigated disaster possible - they are simply unfit for anything but slowly rotting into an undifferentiated mass of flesh-colored goop on their couches while watching mind-controlling HappyNews(tm) on their hi-def televisions, stuffing their faces full of overprocessed food and farting in surprise every time a neuron fires. But at least they all have the right to buy automatic weapos. How many wake-up calls does this country need to ignore? Bush, Iraq, Katrina, the Patriot Act, Obesity epidemic, DMCA, Religious intolerance, Columbine, worst race relations in generations, etc. ad nauseum. Americans are the biggest pussies in the world - they can't even talk about a single one of these problems anymore, much less begin to address them.

    It's only a matter of a generation or two before America becomes irrelevant at this rate. I wonder if anyone will notice.
  • by GooberToo ( 74388 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @09:44AM (#21195749)
    and even then you could only purchase enough to take one a day for ten days!

    It's far worse than that. If there was ever a law which proves how fucking stupid our government representatives are, it's this law. It seems they can't understand the most basic of math. You can purchase roughly 20 pills to cover 30-days. Most people who are on this type of medication REQUIRE at least one pill per day. I'm fairly sure most any grade schooler can figure out that people are shorted 10 pills per month. But our government is so fucking stupid that can't figure that out.

    And yet it gets worse! If you have children, you now have to split those 20-pills between all the people in your house.

    Let's take a typical family. Two adults and two children. Two adults can get 40 pills per month, maximum! If you have four people that need to take those pills, him, now each person only gets 10 pills per month. Hmmm....30 days...ten pills....our government is totally fucking dumb and that can't even do the most fundamental of subtraction.

    And all the above ignores the fact that some doctors actually want some people to take TWO pills per day if an infection is starting. Now that means the one person is able to fight back their infection to only have it come back a vengeance five days later, for the following 25 days and likely wind up going to the doctor for a prescription, which could have all been avoided if it were not for the fucking morons making these laws.

    In other words, this law is requiring people stop buying over the counter medication and forcing people in droves back to their doctors for medication which requires little to no participation from a doctor. Several doctors I've spoken to about this problem are most annoyed because they are often unable to treat patients because they are booked treating patients which should never have be in their offices in the first place. And all this ignores the financial burden it's forcing onto to people who have little to no insurance coverage for prescriptions.

    Literally, our government is making people sick and making them pay more money and wasted time (which for many means loss of money) for the privilege of paying more money for both a doctor visit and prescriptions.
  • by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <{tms} {at} {}> on Thursday November 01, 2007 @09:55AM (#21195889) Homepage

    You have the power to choose between more than two. It's called the primaries.

    No. Primaries are part of the problem.

    Officially, the US is not a two-party system, we are a no-party system. Political parties have no official role under the Constitution. The Democrats and Republicans are private organizations. If they - or the Boy Scouts or the ACLU or whomever - want to get together and put forth candidates, fine; but they ought not be allowed to use public resources to do so, and ought to have to play by the same ballot access rules as everybody else.

    Primaries and other special treatment for parties are gross violations of the equal protection clause.

    No primaries, no party affliations on ballots, no Congressional (or state legislative) rules that recognize party lines. Let's elect men and women, not parties. Add instant-runoff voting, and we could actually start to get decent candidates.

    Do I expect to see this? Not anytime soon. We're going to have to fall even farther before real change is possible.

  • by Crayon Kid ( 700279 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @10:34AM (#21196425)

    I mean true freedom not some legally imposed cage that you deem large enough.
    There's no such thing as "true freedom" in practical terms. All freedom is limited to boundaries you agree to, if you want to live in a society. I mean, you probably agree not to exercise your freedom to go around killing people, in exchange for a reasonable assurance that others won't do it either, right?
  • by babblefrog ( 1013127 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @11:59AM (#21197877)
    WTF? It's the "War on drugs" that is filling our prisons, for the most part. It doesn't have anything to do with immigration.
  • by Frank T. Lofaro Jr. ( 142215 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @12:30PM (#21198325) Homepage
    He could get a non-driver ID.

    I don't even live in California and it took me less than 10 seconds to find it: []
  • by dubbreak ( 623656 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @12:49PM (#21198567)

    ..where it's dangerous to buy a child's chemistry set, but an enshrined right to buy a gun.

    Well if you don't have a gun, how are you going to protect yourself from the terrorists?

    Offtopic, but more seriously: why do americans insist on owning guns? My canadian family lived in the US for a couple years and our friends and neighbours were amazed we didn't own a single gun, either there or "back in canada". The response was always, "How are you going to protect yourselves?"

    Seriously, do some research. In a home invasion you are more likely to harm yourself or be harmed by your gun than scare off an intruder. Our neighbour in her 70's kept a handgun (loaded!!!) in her bedside table. Do you seriously think she could protect herself from an invader using that gun? My bets are at least once a grandchild found the gun and handled it, but she never used it for even target practice.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-gun. I love going out and doing some target practice with various gauges of guns, but I don't need to own one to do that. I have friends that own many guns, but they hunt, collect old guns or belong to target shooting groups. None of them own guns to "protect themselves", it is all for sport.
  • by orgelspieler ( 865795 ) <> on Thursday November 01, 2007 @02:36PM (#21200193) Journal
    I actually don't consider McVeigh a terrorist, since his target was a government building. I don't think he's a hero or a patriot, but I don't think terrorist is the right word. He didn't even try to shoot the cop that arrested him.

    I think the reason the government has been able to get more political capital out of the 9/11 attacks was because it was easy to frame it as an us-versus-them sort of thing. With McVeigh, he was "one of us" or "home-grown," so it was harder for them to get everybody whipped up into a frenzy.

  • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) * on Thursday November 01, 2007 @02:56PM (#21200429) Journal
    Somalia and Afghanistan have a great many guns, however I don't know of anyone who would consider them models of public safety. Public safety seems to me to be far more dependent on a healthy society where economic mobility is available, public institutions like courts and schools function, and resources like water and food are plentiful. Of course, you're correct that all societies have firearms available at some level, and they can be useful for self-defense, but if you suddenly need to use one, it doesn't make any sense to say that you're in a much safer society.

    Even in places like Somalia and Afghanistan, you are safer with a gun than without.

    I own a gun, and I learned to use it properly in the military. I've shot recreationally since I was a teenager. I recognize that they are just a tool, and that good or bad intent lies behind the trigger, not in it. I also acknowledge that it is your right to arm yourself and provide for your your own defense. Of course, all rights entail responsibilities, such as the obligation to learn to handle a gun safely, and to learn the legal ramifications of its use. That said, I'm glad that you don't own a gun, and I wish you would stop trying to be an advocate for them, because your post makes you sound like you don't have the emotional maturity to own a water pistol.

    I too was in the Military. I took an oath to defend the Constitution against all invaders, foreign and domestic. My point was not to defend firearms, but to defend the Constitution and the people who take advantage of it.

    Also, I hate bigots. I ate people that apply prejudice and stereotypes to anyone. It is no different to call Americans with guns nutjobs than it is to call Mexicans fruitpickers or black people porch riders. All three are equally repugnant and I will stand up against the racists who think that way, even if people like you assume that it shows emotional immaturity on my part.

    Yes, I could have put it a bit more gently, but racists, bigots, and elitists put me in a rage. Unfortunately, it showed.

  • by Pengel the squib ( 300408 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @03:05PM (#21200565)
    I'm less concerned with chemistry sets than I am with the loss of access to many once common chemicals. Even competent adults find it difficult to impossible to obtain many chemicals just because someone "might" use them for something illegal or dangerous. In general people are not encouraged and sometimes not even permitted to perform experiments without a "proper" vocation. I guess the backyard scientist or inventor is becoming a lost breed. It's not just chemicals either, anything potentially dangerous seems prone to excessive regulation or prohibition. We just need to be protected from ourselves.
  • by RexRhino ( 769423 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @04:25PM (#21201945)

    "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security are deserving of neither."
    I find that quote especially tiresome. Can't you intellectual giants think of any instances where this is just flat wrong? I can.
    The idea is that a state is either moving towards authoritarianism, despotism, and totalitarianism, etc., or they are moving away from it.

    I am sure you can think of lots of "important" situations, where our "benevolent" government needs to restrict our liberty "for the good of everyone". The trouble is, once you decide there are exception to liberty, everyone has their pet issue that they think liberty should be sacrificed for. In the same way you may be paranoid about say firearms, or recreational drugs, or free markets, or whatever, some people are paranoid about terrorism. It is unreasonable to think that the government will choose to address only your fears, and choose to ignore the fears of others. You aren't special, and in a Democracy, you are just one of tens or hundreds of millions who want the government to address whatever it is that you are terrified of.

    You are either the type of person who supports an expansion of the police state, or you are the type of person who supports rolling back the police state. But if you think the police state is going to restrict liberty only in ways you approve of, you are delusional. The Patriot Act is the price you pay for gun control. The War on Terrorism is the price you pay for the War on Drugs. When you give the government the power to monitor your bank accounts so it can tax you to pay for the social services you approve of, you also give government the power to monitor your bank account to make sure you aren't a "supporting terrorists".

    You are either more afraid of terrorists, criminals, buisnesses, etc. than the government... in which case you support the police state, and you accept the good with the bad. Or, you are more afraid of the government than terrorists, criminals, buisnesses, etc., and you are willing to accept that there might be slightly greater amount of risk that goes along with liberty. You make your choice, but don't decieve yourself that you can have your cake and eat it too.

    I find great amusement in the fact that you're quoting a slavemaster in regards to the importance of liberty.
    The people who are against free speech, or the right to own weapons, or the right to keep what you earn or to own property, always like to point out that the early American advocates of these rights owned slaves. What they don't like to point out, is that slaves where denied free speech, denied the right to own weapons, and denied the right to keep what they earned or to own property, because such rights are incompatible with slavery.

    The slave owning founding fathers where racist in that they wanted to deny blacks the same rights that they wanted to give to whites... But they at least they understood that if you don't have free speech, the right to own property, the right to arm yourself, that you are a helpless slave. They understood that gun control, censorship, and taxation and confiscation where tools that you used in order to control and exploit the people you wanted to enslave.

    The fact that the American founding fathers where hippocrites and racists does not change the fact that they had a clear understanding of how restricting liberty is a tool of exploitation. The fact that so many so-called "progressives" or "advocates of social justice" want the government to implement policies that were designed 500 years ago so that slave masters could better exploit their slaves, means that those people are either ignorant to the facts of history, or secretly want to enslave people.

Basic is a high level languish. APL is a high level anguish.