It's sad to note how collective humanity has done an ostrich on the warnings about the machines. Still the NFL exists, robbing us of our best and brightest, who will no longer be available for the coming war with SkyNET. Conferences on what to do about the surely coming robot horde have produced little in the way of a path forward and have gone relatively unreported in any case. Due to this, we know very little about what form the non-existent threat of terminator-like metal monsters will take. Will they simply wage war against us? Will they syphon our body heat for energy? Will they farm our skin and dance around in it to Goodbye Horses, like some kind of graphite Buffalo Bill?
Pictured: A Rice University professor in the near future Image source: CC BY 2.0
According to Vardi, sometime around the year 2045, you won't have a job any longer because the robots will have taken it away from you.
In recent writings, Vardi traces the evolution of the idea that artificial intelligence may one day surpass human intelligence, from Turing to Kurzweil, and considers the recent rate of progress. Although early predictions proved too aggressive, in the space of 15 years we’ve gone from Deep Blue beating Kasparov at chess to self-driving cars and Watson beating Jeopardy champs Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. Extrapolating into the future, Vardi thinks it’s reasonable to believe intelligent machines may one day replace human workers almost entirely and in the process put millions out of work permanently.
Well, looking back through the history of technological progress, you can certainly see his point. And once you've seen that point, you can laugh at it. And once you've laughed at it, you can call his local police station and request that they remove any science fiction movies from his home by force, because he's clearly seen too many of them.
The problem with thinking that artificial intelligence is going to replace us in the workforce is two-fold. First, it cheaply ignores the impact every other form of technological progress has had thus far. Robots are used on assembly lines, yet there's no drastic net loss of jobs. When the automobile was invented, it isn't as though the buggy whip makers simply died off in unemployed starvation. There are other jobs to be had, most often created as a direct result of the advance in technology. Assembly line workers become machinists. Buggy whip makers go to work for the auto companies. There can be pain in the market in the short term as it is disrupted, but on a long enough timeline everything seems to even back out.
The second problem is the failure to recognize that people value some products and services provided by our fellow meat-sacks. Can auto-attendant systems handle phone duties? Sure, but there are tons of companies that specifically advertise the concept of customers being able to talk to a "real" person. Can machines make rugs? Yup, yet there's a huge market in hand-woven rugs out there. And the service industries rely heavily on personality. A machine might be able to serve me my beer at my local watering hole, but will it listen to me complain about my job if I'm having a crappy day? Will it be able to offer me an opinion on which wine is the best on the menu? And, as the article notes, what if any workforce disruption that does occur is desirable?
Perhaps in the future, while some of us work hard to build and program super-intelligent machines, others will work hard to entertain, theorize, philosophize, and make uniquely human creative works, maybe even pair with machines to accomplish these things. These may seem like niche careers for the few and talented. But at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, jobs of the mind in general were niche careers.
Hopefully you recall the story of Suburban Express and its owner, admitted domain squatter Dennis Toeppen, but let me catch you up and let you know what's been going on since that post ran. Suburban Express is a bus company that caters to Midwest students traveling to and from Chicago. And by "caters" I apparently mean they make them sign contracts designed to extract unreasonable fines from their wallets and threaten lawsuits against them if they have anything less than glowing things to say about their experience online. While this has gone on for some time, a new spotlight was shown when one rider, Jeremy Leval, related on Reddit a tale of one of the company's drivers berating a customer for speaking less-than-perfect English. That customer happened to be an exchange student. Toeppen went nuclear on Reddit, threatened litigation via their corporate counsel, and also threatened the Reddit moderator. Once the story began to spread, the company was introduced to Ken "Popehat" White, at which point the tone of all their communications took an almost cartoonish turn towards congeniality. Suburban Express promised to drop their 100-plus lawsuits against customers, which they've done, and doesn't appear to have filed against the Reddit moderator. They were a bit too late, as the internet backlash led to someone defacing their website, but at least they learned a lesson in how to treat their customers, right?
Toeppen relaunched his online attacks against Leval, posting a page to Suburban Express' website that recounted the March 31 incident from Toeppen's point of view and calling Leval "nothing but a bullying, self-important brat." The page reiterated Toeppen's claim that Leval was trying to smear Suburban Express to help his own since-aborted plans for a student ride-sharing site, saying, "A blogger suggested that Leval may have been motivated to harass Suburban Express as a means of furthering his business interests."
Toeppen's post didn't end there. He also recounted a conversation that Leval and his girlfriend allegedly had with a driver from another transportation service. "On May 12, 2013, Jeremy Leval and his girlfriend interacted with an EAC driver at Armory around 2:50pm. Jeremy approached the driver and asked if he had heard of Suburban Express. Jeremy went on to boast that he is the guy who is causing Suburban Express lots of trouble. This makes [me] question Jeremy Leval's motivations. Is he a selfless individual fighting for the rights of the oppressed, or is he a self-promoting, troublemaking, attention-seeker?"
There's a couple of problems with this kind of response. First, note that none of this has anything to do with refuting the company's generally anti-customer behavior. Yes, Toeppen pushes back slightly on Leval's story, indicating that some kind of apology was made to the exchange student, by someone, somewhere, and at some time. Gee, wonderful. Nothing about suing their customers, however. Nothing about $100 fines for simply giving the driver the wrong ticket, calling such mistakes "ticket fraud."
Second, what difference does it make if Leval is proud of publically slapping around a company doing these kinds of things? Hell, I'd be proud of myself, too. There's no prohibition on enjoying doing good works. And the fact that Leval might (might!) be thinking of starting his own competing company is a complete non-issue relating to the facts. Again, what happened is what happened, regardless of Leval's future business endeavors.
And, finally, did Toeppen learn nothing from round one of this mess? Going after a former customer right on the company website is exactly the kind of behavior that got them into this mess to begin with. Business takes thick skin, even for those that aren't engaging in questionable behavior. I don't know what kind of profit Toeppen sees in using his company website in this manner, but I fear he's in for yet another lesson.
The universe has a sense of humor. I'm convinced of it. See, as someone who believes that humor is a wonderful way to deal with otherwise disheartening topics, I'm amazed at how often the world around me will give me something to laugh at when I'm feeling blue. Take the world's current climate on the topic of religion, for instance. It'd be very easy to get down in the dumps over the Westboro Baptist Church, religious fundamentalists engaging in acts of terror, and the never-ending saga known as the Middle East "peace" process. None of those things are laughing matters. But then, reading the forlorn expression on my face, the universe sends me another story from the Church of Scientology.
The crowd was around 450-750 people. But the church claims it was more like 2,500, and it Photoshopped in the proof. Except the proof is about as convincing as your thetan's origin story. In reality, there were no people in the right-hand side of the photo. There was actually a line of rented trees set up to block the view of people not so friendly to Scientology (see the photo below), as well as police blocking off a four-block radius for the event. And it's not just that the picture was doctored, it's that it was done quite poorly. They added people right on top of the trees in the altered section.
Tony Ortega has the two photos that demonstrate this. First was the "official" photo from the Church which is clearly photoshopped.
And then a shot from a different angle showing that the people on the right section above aren't actually there.
What was an attempt to make turnout of the "event" look bigger than it was resulted in, at best, Scientology looking silly yet again for their combination of secretiveness and lying about their own events. Or, at worst, it suggests that Scientology turns human beings into a kind of hybrid tree-people, in which case we're all going to be subject to an aphid plague that may undo all of humanity. Ahhhh!
So a word of friendly advice to my Scientologist friends: brainwashed graphic designers are a better asset than brainwashed Tom Cruises. For ever and ever. Amen.
I guess I can't say for sure how I would react to a negative review (besides reading some Techdirt comments directed at me), but I'd like to think that I have thick enough skin not to make a complete ass out of myself. That's why it always surprises me to see companies that should know better poop their pants over what customers (or non-customers) say on sites like Yelp and Reddit. Whether it's suing customers or issuing DMCA notices, I simply fail to see the logic in pissing off even more people with that kind of behavior. If someone posted a negative review of one of my books for instance, even petulantly, I'd prefer to look at it as an opportunity to both learn from the negative review and appreciate the fact that someone out there cared enough to write something about it at all.
Or, if you're Amy's Baking Company, you can write off all the complaints as coming from "haters" and then make a complete ass of yourself on your company's Facebook page. That restaurant has an interesting history of poor service, garnering poor reviews on Yelp, and even cursing at customers and tossing them out of their establishment for complaining. The woman who runs the place (you'll never guess what her name is) appears to have the business sense of a drunken chimpanzee. In one of the all-time worst decisions of anything ever, they decided to bring in Gordon Ramsay's show Kitchen Nightmares for the stated purpose of proving to their customers that their food is crazy good and the haters are all idiots. Those that have watched the show in the past can probably already hear the freight train of doom headed Amy's way.
On Friday night's episode of Kitchen Nightmares, shouty chef Gordon Ramsay quit for the first time ever in the show's 82-episode history. Amy and Samy Bouzaglo — owners of Amy's Baking Company in Scottsdale, Arizona — blamed everyone for their troubles, including "haters" and "bloggers," but not themselves. The owners did not give service staff tips (pocketing the money instead) and admitted to having fired over 100 employees. Said Ramsay: "After about 100 Kitchen Nightmares, I met two owners I could not help, it is because they are incapable of listening."
I'm not normally one for reality shows, but go watch this. Seriously. The level of crazy in Amy and her husband Samy is as epic as it is entertaining. Right off the bat, Amy breathlessly rails against "haters" and "bloggers" who are apparently to blame for her serving variously under-prepared and over-prepared food, wait times that are measured in hours for customers, and food combinations that would make even an amatuer cook blow their brains out in dismay.
Still, the whole point of the show is to help failing restaurants turn things around, right? So obviously things went poorly on the show, the public reacted, and Amy and Samy learned their lesson and got their shitake mushrooms together.
Of course they didn't. Instead, their Facebook page went at times all-caps nuclear, with some of the greatest combinations of religiosity, anger, and cursing I've ever witnessed. Some treasures of highlights for you to enjoy.
"We will not bend to the will of these haters and sinners."
"I AM NOT STUPID ALL OF YOU ARE. YOU JUST DO NOT KNOW GOOD FOOD. IT IS NOT UNCOMMON TO RESELL THINGS WALMART DOES NOT MAKE THEIR ELECTRONICS OR TOYS SO LAY OFF!!!!"
"I am keeping note of all names here. We will be pursuing action against you legaly, and against reddit and yelp, for this plot you have come together on. you are all just punks."
"WE ARE NOT FREAKING OUT. WE DO NOT CARE ABOUT A "WITCH HUNT" I AM NOT A WITCH. I AM GODS CHILD. PISS OFF ALL OF YOU. FUCK REDDITS, FUCK YELP AND FUCK ALL OF YOU. BRING IT. WE WILL FIGHT BACK."
Now, it should be noted that Amy and Samy have since claimed that someone hacked their Facebook page. Reading the above posts, which have since been deleted, you may be inclined to think that level of crazy is obviously the work of troublemakers. To that I suggest again watching the episode. Either someone is doing an immensely accurate impression of these two, or it was them and they aren't enjoying the blowback that comes with pissing off everyone.
So, what's the lesson that should be learned here? Is it that you shouldn't treat your customers like garbage? Is it that you shouldn't lash out about poor reviews online, regardless of whether you agree with them or not? Is it that you shouldn't seek out Gordon Ramsay as a way to vindicate yourself? Or is that reacting to bad press from all the above by blowing an o-ring on your company Facebook page and then crying hack only makes you look petty?
None of the above. The lesson here is that you shouldn't go to Amy's Baking Company, because if the food doesn't kill you, I think there's at least a chance Amy will.
By now, you probably know the Streisand Effect storyline. Obscure person X says something famous person Y either doesn't want known or doesn't like, famous person Y sues or threatens to sue, thereby vaulting the entire episode into a media spotlight it wouldn't have enjoyed otherwise. Whether that disliked information is true or not, the entire point is that what amounts to a massive overreaction doesn't achieve the ultimately desired effect. True, it can take a thick skin to ignore some of the nonsense that occurs on the internet, but it's for the best.
You know who I would have thought would really have thick skin? A guy who had played hockey and had, up to recently, served as an executive in the NHL. Turns out I was wrong, since former Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke is pissed about rumors of why he was fired spreading online, so much so that he's going to court.
The former general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs filed a court action Friday alleging defamation against several unidentified Internet commenters believed to have authored and spread rumours about his dismissal.
“Brian has decided that it is time to stop people who post comments on the Internet from thinking they can fabricate wild stories with impunity,” read a letter penned by Burke’s lawyer Peter A. Gall of Heenan Blaikie LLP. “Brian is determined to find the authors of the lie about him and those who have circulated the lie. He is pursuing them in court and will obtain orders compelling them to pay damages for their illegal actions.”
The rumors in question suggested that Burke had been fired over an affair with a reporter covering the team and had had a child with said reporter. As it turns out, this wasn't at all true. If ever there was going to be something on the internet to piss you off, that one might be it. The problem, of course, is that the bloggers in question appear to be obscure netizens with no following at all. Almost nobody knew of the rumors -- and for the few who did, it was really no different than some random fans at the bar or in the stands tossing around silly rumors. Until the lawsuit, that is. Hell, most of the bloggers haven't even been identified beyond screen names to date, since they aren't important or followed enough for anyone to know anything about them.
The defendants, whose identities are currently unknown to Burke, are listed only by their online usernames: “NoFixedAddress”, “CamBarkerFan”, “Lavy16”, “mbskidmore”, “Tulowd”, “Loob”, “Naggah”, “mowerman”, “Aaronp18”, “Steve”, “KaBoomin8”, “THEzbrad”, “Slobberface”, “Poonerman”, “isolatedcircuit”, “Kanada Kev”, and “sir psycho sexy”.
Now, I know what you're thinking: surely, Tim, you are "sir psycho sexy." Well, I'm not. My other handle is "jock itch mcglitch" thank you very much. But at least THEzbrad's website has been identified, now that he's written a response to the lawsuit. I give you one person that Burke's lawyers claim acted with "actual and expressed malice and had the intention of damaging the Plaintiff’s reputation.”
Up until three weeks ago very few people had visited this blog. If you are one of my new readers you are probably aware of my current situation. Recently I have been involved in a lawsuit regarding a post I made on this blog earlier in the year. That blog post was merely speculation; just a rumour I heard and had read on hockey forums... It needs to be noted that the blog post I made specifically stated that what I was writing was based on speculations and that it was just rumours...Hopefully, Brian Burke and Hazel Mae will read this and understand how I feel, and what my intentions were. I want to sincerely apologize to them for any personal or professional damages my actions may have caused them.
That's the kind of malice you can really sink your teeth into, amirite? But, the bigger point is that this guy also made it quite clear that what he was posting was a rumor in the original posting, rather than a statement of fact. Could it still be defamatory? Possibly -- especially with Canada's stricter defamation laws. But consider the context, and think about how this was really little different than some fans at a bar tossing around some rumors which no one actually paid any attention to. If it's defamatory, it's fleeting and meaningless. But, when we see a public person bring a spotlight to themselves over obscure information, even if it's not true, what we end up with is him reminding everyone that he is willing to sue over rumors. Of course, the end result might just be that people also reconfirm that he was fired for just being a really crappy GM. Nicely done.
Unless you've been living under a rock lately, you're probably aware that the tide is turning here in the States more and more in favor of rights for the LGBT community. Interestingly, America rests somewhere in the middle on the spectrum on these kinds of issues, with plenty of world nations allowing for more gay rights and certainly many that allow for less. While this one-toe-in-the-water approach is perfectly reflected in entertainment mediums like video games, it's certainly worth noting that games in North America have begun to be more inclusive when it comes to LGBT characters and/or options in so-called "choice" or "sandbox" games. The Sims franchise was somewhere on the forefront of that sort of thing and more recent games like the Mass Effect series finally began to follow suit. And now it appears we can add the notoriously conservative Nintendo to the list of game developers that include such characters in their games.
See, gamers playing Nintendo's Tomodachi Collection: New Life noticed that this latest iteration of the game, which is very much like The Sims, had the option for the first time to have their male characters marry other male characters and raise children together. Hooray for civil rights progress, right guys?
One Twitter user claims to have contacted Nintendo's customer support, which supposedly said this is a bug and that the game needs to be patched. Online in Japan, however, there were many internet users who said they planned on getting this game only after learning of this bug—er, feature.
That Twitter user's story now appears to be confirmed, with Nintendo releasing a patch to fix the "bug", which it says allows for "human relations that become strange." So allowing players to be as gay in their virtual lives as they might be in their real lives wasn't a feature, it was a bug. And you're going to correct it. Here's another idea, and I'm just spitballing here, but how about the fix you release doesn't take away a bit of the humanity of your latest game, but rather extends it to female characters as well? It's not like including gay characters in a game, particularly one that is all about personal choice, means that somehow the game developers all agree in unison that all the morality questions are thrown aside. I happen to think that anyone who finds a problem with homosexuality is on the wrong side of both humanity and biology, but I won't dismiss the right for other people to have a different opinion. The thing is, none of that is the point. I played the Sims. I don't remember any more of an uproar over that game's characters being able to be gay than I remember an outcry over how you used to be able to order a pizza and then build walls around the delivery guy until he died (great fun, btw). Nobody who saw that done suddenly thought EA was supporting delivery boy murder and no one with a lick of sense thought EA was taking some moral stance on gay rights.
And besides all that, the reaction to the bug? Freaking positive.
In Japan, some Tomodachi Collection: New Life owners seem thrilled by the bug, posting photos of their gay couples online. In the images, male Mii characters ask each other to go steady, propose marriage, go on Honeymoons, bathe together, and raise children.
Well, no kidding, because the metrics of the debate are shifting quickly to be more inclusive. Even if one were to think that homosexuality was immoral, you can't lose your stones about it being included in a video game, unless you're also going to take the same stance on murder, violence, theft, cursing, lying, etc. Nintendo made their bones on a stereotyped Italian plumber. Now that Nintendo has decided to erase the option to be gay from this game, I hope to hell the backlash is as brutal as it should be.
By now we should all be aware that in many arenas the United States and China are engaged in a giant political pissing match. Everyone by now is also aware of how afraid the Chinese government is of their citizens getting their hands on any information or news that the government hasn't scrubbed more clean than someone with OCD after exiting a sewer. Between porn, those terrifying monks in Tibet, and the infamous Great Firewall, it's all on lock down in what will ultimately be a failed attempt to stifle political criticism from the masses. I say it will ultimately fail because even when China's government does release something that has been scrubbed, it has the potential to become a flashpoint for blowback.
CCTV recently used a Jon Stewart clip to lay into the U.S. over the Guantanamo Bay political stalemate. As SCMP [South China Morning Post] points out, state television's attempt to poke fun at the U.S. with Stewart backfired online in China, with people saying that CCTV was being hypocritical and missing the irony.
That irony, of course, is that the Chinese state-run media, whose stated role is to serve the Communist party's interests, attempted to demonize America with a clip that brilliantly showed that our media is free to critique our own government. This is something that wouldn't have been permitted in China, a fact not lost on the online community there.
"There are so many problems happening domestically that you choose not to broadcast every day, but instead choose to smell the farts of other countries," one Chinese commenter wrote in video's comment section.
"This is our country's mainstream media... They just want to divert our attention to problems [of other countries] away from poisonous ginger, tainted milk, gutter oil and undrinkable tap water," quipped another.
Now, there are many reasons why oppressive censorship of information just isn't going to work any longer, and perhaps it never really did, but this example of scrubbed information having the exact opposite effect on China's people is a wonderful reason for hope. It's been said that on a long enough time table, everybody's chances for survival goes to zero. I'd make the same argument for oppressive regimes. Eventually, the Chinese people will get tired of being treated like babies, and it looks like censorship fails even when you do it "right."
There's been some hand-wringing in the past about online services like Wikipedia and WebMD and how patients and families use them to do self-diagnosis. Much of this seemed to be drummed up media attention, since you have to imagine the vast majority of medical patients are intelligent enough to listen to the advice of their doctors, Chicago Bulls players notwithstanding. Every once in a while, however, you'll get a story of someone who decided to trust information found online over medical personnel, typically regarding minor medical issues.
Even more rarely, you find a real treasure in the form of someone lacking so much in common sense that you have to wonder how they manage to get out of bed in the morning. For example, I'm not yet a parent, but I'm pretty sure that if my child suffered from lead poisoning caused by someone wielding a freaking pistol, my first reaction would be to take my child to the hospital. Not so if you're this mother in Texas, apparently, since she decided to hop on the old interwebz to see what WebMD advised for gunshot wounds.
Despite the shooting taking place around 6:30 PM on Tuesday, it wasn't until 2 AM on Wednesday that the boy's mother finally brought him to Mainland Medical Center for treatment. She had apparently spent the previous hours looking up "gunshot wound" on WebMD.
And that brings to mind the two obvious questions. First, why isn't there an entry for "gunshot wound" on WebMD that simply reads, "Go to the damned hospital, you moron!"? And second, exactly how much searching is required on WebMD before you come to that conclusion anyway? One hour? Two? Three? This mother-of-the-year candidate has to account for seven and a half hours! One assumes she spent at least four of those looking for the "any" key on her computer, right?
Fortunately, investigators are now saying they may charge the mother with a felony being-stupid or some such thing. Here's hoping they get that child out of her house and into a safer environment, like the tiger pit at their nearest zoo.
Some of us had hoped that the liberation in Iraq would finally produce an example of a once clamped-down, dictatorial regime giving way to a pluralistic government in the Middle East. The theory was that after years of oppressive rule by the minority Sunni population, an inclusive government would result in functioning democracy, with all the benefits that go along with it. Chief amongst those benefits is the right to free speech, which requires allowing an open and free press. Unfortunately, that hope dwindled somewhat years back, when the Iraqi government joined the list of nations that sought to censor the internet to protect its own power. The importance of that move was probably lost on many people who failed to understand that it was an absolute negation of the freedom gained only years before.
Iraq's government ordered 10 television networks shut down Sunday, accusing them of stoking sectarian violence with "unprofessional" and "unethical" coverage of recent clashes in the country's north. Sunday's order from the Communications and Media Commission includes the Qatar-based satellite network Al Jazeera and eight outlets aimed at the country's Sunni Arab minority. Ahmed Saeed, a reporter for Baghdad Satellite TV, said the decree effectively halts his network's reporting.
This move is wrong-headed on several levels. First, if media outlets had to be shut down whenever they reported inaccurate information, even America would be left with zero media outlets. Second, considering the targets of these shutdowns, there is a roughly 100% chance that they will be seen as a stifling of speech specifically on the Sunni minority, once in power and now with a minor seat at the government table. The tone here is one of simple revenge rather than any sincere attempt at stifling bad information. Shias censoring Sunnis isn't the way to stop internal conflicts. One needs only look to Syria for evidence that stifling speech won't stop the violence.
And most importantly, moves like this will simply push Iraq back to the very arena in which its people suffered for so many years. Censorship of speech and the press is the field upon which folks like Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida play, and have been playing for longer than al-Maliki's government. They're better at it than he is. The cure is open culture, pluralism, and free speech. Push Iraq away from openness and you place it in danger of fascism and theocracy once more.
If you recall the insane concept of "hot news," you know all about the attempt to treat factual information as intellectual property as long as you were breaking that information as news. Courts have since seen through that kind of insanity, but that doesn't keep some of the more obnoxious organizations out there from attempting end-arounds that amount to the same thing. And since I used the word "obnoxious," you just had to know that the latest example of this is going to feature Dr. Phil, who is every bit an M.D. as I am a velociraptor.
Many months back when people still gave a damn about college football, Dr. Phil had a two-part series with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man who says he perpetrated the hoax of a fake, dead girlfriend on Notre Dame linebacker and now NFL draft-dropper Manti T'eo. Deadspin covered the story, including the use of clips from the show, in which Tuiasosopo performed his falsetto girl-voice in one of the most awkward television moments this side of that one time when Tom finally caught Jerry and ripped his limbs off in victory (FYI, that never happened). Dr. Phil has apparently cried copyright foul. His reason for this is that some of history's worst math mixed with a touch of irony told him that Deadspin's coverage cost him massive amounts of viewers.
Peteski Productions is arguing that Deadspin spoiled a two-part cliffhanger on the Dr. Phil program by posting a clip of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo speaking in what he said was the voice of the fictitious girlfriend "hours before the Dr. Phil Show aired to over 98% of its viewers." In other words, the clip was posted after the episode of Dr. Phil had already been broadcast in some markets, breaking the show's own news blackout on the question of whether or not Tuiasosopo would perform the female voice.
According to Broadcasting & Cable, the first and second parts of the interview drew 4.8 million and 4.3 million viewers respectively, exceeding the show's average of 4.1 million. That performance helped make Dr. Phil the No. 1 rated syndicated talk show for that sweeps period.
Keep the math we're discussing here in mind, because the level of stupid is about to approach epic proportions. Dr. Phil's ratings during those two shows exceeded their averages. Meanwhile, the two Deadspin posts in question garnered a grand total of 164k views together. The lawsuit alledges that the second Deadspin post, which had 103k of those views, caused the drop in viewership between the first and second episodes of the Dr. Phil show. Read that again. A post with roughly 100k views cost Dr. Phil 400k viewers. Clearly, Dr. Phil's doctorate isn't in mathematics. Nor is it in intellectual property law, I'm afraid, as most people would have to conclude that using the short clips to report on the story, with additional commentary, would very likely fall under fair use.
So, there you have the bad math part. But I promised you irony, didn't I? For that, we'll return to the lawsuit, which references Deadspin's ex-editor, AJ Daulerio's joking claim about how people refer to the site as a "content remora" and then the lawsuit helpfully goes on to describe exactly what that is.
A remora is a fish, sometimes called a suckerfish, which attaches itself to other fish like sharks. The host fish gains nothing from the relationship but the remora is enriched by obtaining benefits (usually food and transportation) from the host.
Got it? The lawsuit is claiming that Deadspin is leeching off of Dr. Phil, providing nothing to them but benefiting from Dr. Phil's laborious undertakings. So why is this ironic? Well, because Deadspin broke the damned T'eo story to begin with. No Deadspin, no Dr. Phil shows with higher-than-average ratings. The remora reference would only be apt if remoras left their host sharks regularly to order those sharks Chinese takeout and deliver said takeout personally. And, of course, Daulerio's use of the term, in context, shows that he was actually mocking those -- like Dr. Phil -- who falsely imply that Gawker and its sites like Deadspin only leech off of someone else's content. The whole point of Daulerio's statement was to show that they're not, in fact, leeching, and yet Dr. Phil's lawsuit attempts to flip that around.
So take your own advice and get real, Dr. Phil. This was a case of fair use and your piss-poor math is as laughable as it gets. You should be thanking Deadspin for the story in the first place, not slinging mud and lawsuits in their direction.
So, hey, remember that one time that Disney thought it'd be a pretty sweet idea to celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden by applying for trademarks on Seal Team 6's name so they could apparently sell snow globes? Pretty much everyone who came across the story dropped a verbal brick on the Mouse for what looked like quite an elegant mix of cynicism and a lack of patriotism, causing them to drop their applications shortly after. Personally, I'm having a hard time thinking of a better exemplification of what is currently the 'American way' than locking up language due to the brave actions of others, but I guess my brand of cynicism just isn't cool with the kids these days.
Anyhoo, guess who now wants to lock up the name of a traditional Mexican holiday to sell some swag? Yup, Mickey is back to his old habits with multiple applications on "Día De Los Muertos", more commonly known as the Day of the Dead.
Disney filed 10 requests in the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office this month to coin the phrase. Disney's filings are mainly for merchandise, presumably connected to an upcoming film. The areas they are hoping to secure include “education and entertainment services,” “fruit preserves; fruit-based snack foods,” “toys, games and playthings,” “clothing,” “footwear,” “backpacks,” “clocks and jewelry” and more.
You know, as someone who likes to think they write things people occasionally find funny, I have to tell you how special it is when someone out there does all the setup work for you. I mean, a national holiday during which families come together to pray for their recently departed... and you're going to make fruit preserves and snacks about it? Seriously, I don't even have to write a joke about this. It writes itself. What are they going to call the snacks, Fruit Roll-Out Your Deads? Berry Departeds? It's a gold mine!
As for the other areas in which they applied for the mark, it's worth noting that approximately an infinite number of other folks are already producing Día De Los Muertos merchandise. Note that nearly all of the markets Disney applied for are covered already, with the exception of all the fruit snacks and preserves. In the article, some helpful trademark lawyer made sure we all know that Disney getting their marks approved wouldn't mean people couldn't celebrate the holiday, because ostensibly we're all complete morons and didn't know that already. The point is that making a movie shouldn't allow Disney to suddenly lock up the name of a traditional holiday for markets that are mostly already well served by other providers.
Hell, why not just lock up Christmas and be done with it? Oh, wait....
While we recently discussed how EA's silence has managed to push the backlash over the SimCity launch debacle into the background, anyone at all familiar with the story realizes what a complete botch it was. The initial backlash was bad enough, but it was made all the worse when company executive after company executive came out of the woodwork to excuse, obscure, and otherwise make misleading comments about the more egregious aspects of the launch failure. The most frustrating of these was the insistence that the online requirement for the game was in no way a form of DRM, it was a simply a matter of vision in core gameplay, and anyone confusing the two doesn't understand the gaming software business.
"I feel bad for the team", he says. "I could have predicted - I kind of did predict there'd be a big backlash about the DRM stuff."
Yeah, that's Wrighttelling EA that they should have seen this coming. He goes on to say that he actually enjoys the game quite a bit, but adds in some fairly harsh words for the anti-customer method of the launch.
"That was basically inexcusable, that you charge somebody $60 for a game and they can't play it. I can understand the outrage. If I was a consumer buying the game and that happened to me, I'd feel the same."
To understand the gravity of a legend like Wright making these comments, it would be as if the leaders of the world went on a world tour telling you how great the entire planet was in every way and how you had only them to thank for it being so mega-awesome, all the while war, murder and famine occurred around you. Then, just as you were getting fed up with the lies and BS, whatever God you might believe in parted the heavens, poked his head through, and said, "Hey, not bad, but you guys kind of f%@#ed the whole thing up."
Too often, it seems like arguments over the role of the internet in the music industry get boiled down to what I'd guess is a false dichotomy. Either you embrace the hell out of the digital revolution, like Amanda Palmer, or you angrily screed against all things interwebz, like AC/DC. As evidenced both by the fact that AC/DC walked their hard-line back a few steps later on, while other bands still find value in labels that embrace digital models, I'd bet that the stance of most artists and bands is far more nuanced than you'd expect, and takes on the characteristics more of an evolution than any static opinion. This isn't to say that ignorance shouldn't be called out, of course, but we should also understand that opinions can be changed and none of these artists are scary boogeymen to be universally derided.
Still, it's extremely disappointing when an artist or band you love comes out on the attack. The more vicious the attack, the more disappointing it is. Needless to say, when the resurrected Alice In Chains saw an interview with Classic Rock as an opportunity to tell everyone how much they hate Twitter, the internet, the modern music industry and dance routines, I was supremely disappointed.
In an interview in the upcoming new issue of Classic Rock, the band reveal there's a lot of stuff they don't like about the biz. Like the internet. And downloading. And Twitter. And whole lot more besides…
"I don't like a whole lot of it, no," says mainman Jerry Cantrell. "I think the thing that's most disappointing to me is that now, what you do is worth less than nothing. It's been reduced to a game show. And somehow, something you've worked on and poured your soul into, and invested your money in, somehow it's no longer deemed valuable. That's fucked up, to me. I can't go to the gas station and take the gas for free – I'd go to jail. But somehow it's okay to take my thing for free."
Er, okay then. Except nobody with a serious opinion on the matter is advocating that infringement (nor, um, stealing gas?) is "okay." That's just not happening. The argument is an economical one, in which there is indeed value and worth in digital music, but the proper price for those goods might best be made zero or approaching zero. This is not some conspiratorial plan to siphon money away from bands. Rather, it's a look at how they can actually make more money in arenas where higher prices make sense due to scarcity. I fear that terms like "worth less than nothing" belie a fundamental misunderstanding of the economic forces at work here. Bassist Mike Inez goes on to wonder where the next generation of artists is going to come from, while the answer is: from more places and in greater quantities than ever before.
Were that the band's only misguided stance, we could write it off as an honest misunderstanding. There appears, however, to be a great deal of anger from Alice In Chains on many things modern.
"And now it's okay for music to be this little file that doesn't even sound good," Cantrell adds. "And it's okay for people to go on stage and fucking fake the songs. They don't want the real thing, they don't want the bad notes, they don't want somebody who can go up there and sing their own songs, they just want somebody that can do the fucking flashy dance moves."
"There used to be a mystique about rock bands," chips in drummer Sean Kinney, "but now it's like, 'Follow me on Twitter!' I don't wanna know what fuckin' sandwich you ate at the airport, man. Because we're just people. Our job isn't all that more interesting than anybody else."
I keep up with a great number of follows on Twitter, which is probably why I have yet to hear about anyone eating a sandwich in an airport. I also wonder, regarding the hateful prevalence of dancing in music, if the band is familiar with the past four decades of musical acts.
Regardless, I'm hoping the band is more nuanced and has a more evolutionary thought-process about these things than how they're coming off in the interview. I should probably disclose that they have long been a favorite of mine. I just like the internet a bit more.
Another day, another case of a business attempting to stifle online criticism via threat of lawsuit, amirite? We've seen it again and again. Companies ignorant of the terrifying Streisand Effect go after critics and, normally, the only warm and fuzzy feeling we can take away from it is knowing that these abusers are more hated as a result of their threats than they were before. But not today, friends. Today's story ends hilariously well.
It all starts with an Illinois bus company called Suburban Express that operates lines from Chicago to several colleges in and out of the state. Its online reputation is, to say the least, poor.
For example, the company's ticket policy includes a "ticket fraud" clause that hits riders who hand the wrong ticket to a driver with a $100 fine, charged to the credit card used to purchase their ticket. "In the event that ticket is used to obtain transportation on another day or at another time," the company's policy statement reads, "or to or from a Chicago area stop other than printed on your ticket, you will be charged full fare for the trip you actually rode PLUS $100 penalty. You will also be permanently banned." The company also has a history of suing passengers for violating its terms and conditions—it has filed 125 tort and contract damage lawsuits against passengers this year alone, according to a report from a student newspaper.
So, we're dealing with a company that enjoys suing its own customers after slapping their wallets around with insane fines that seem designed less to encourage good behavior than to simply extract more money out of people. Well, if Suburban Express is happy to sue its own customers, you can guess just how aggressive they like to behave with the internet upon which some of these customers express their displeasure. Unfortunately, when that displeasure is aimed at one of the company's drivers who told an exchange student, "If you don't understand English, you don't belong at the University of Illinois or any 'American' University," then you're going to raise the ire of roughly everyone. It was a witness to that event, Jeremy Leval, who took to Facebook to describe the incident. Guess what his prize for outing racism was...
Four days later, Leval told the Daily Illini, University of Illinois' student newspaper, about the incident. He received an e-mail from the company that said he was being fined $500 for "liquidated damages" and was permanently banned. In a statement on the company's website, company owner [Dennis] Toeppen threatened to sue Leval, saying, "The attorneys for Suburban Express are reviewing this incident with a view towards filing the appropriate legal action against this meddlesome MBA student."
Toeppen wasn't done there, either. He took to Reddit to push back on on Leval's story, indicating that some undescribed person had already apologized for the incident (because that makes it all better?). Unfortunately for him, his company is still being lambasted for its behavior on subreddits for the University of Illinois, where some are also claiming that Suburban Express employees are posting messages accusing reddit users of being virgins and chronic masturbators. Should you think that the idea of a business owner doing all this is a bit far-fetched, it's instructive to note the kind of slimeball we're talking about.
Toeppen is no stranger to legal action over Internet controversy. In the late 1990s, he was a self-confessed cybersquatter, registering over 200 domain names and asking for payment by trademark holders in exchange for them—including Panavision.com, for which he demanded $13,000. That led to the 1998 case Panavision International L.P. v. Toeppen (which Toeppen lost) and in part to the AntiCybersquatting Consumer Protection Act of 1999.
"It was clear to me at the time that domain names were valuable, undeveloped virtual real estate," he wrote on his personal home page. "There was absolutely no statutory or case law regarding trademarks in the context of Internet domain names at the time. It seemed to be an excellent opportunity to do the virtual equivalent of buying up property around a factory—eventually the factory owner would realize that he needed the scarce resource which I possessed."
Now, after a bunch of the insulting messages on reddit were deleted by the moderator, Murph Finnicum, Toeppen's attorney threatened to sue him for libel and over deleting the messages purportedly left by Suburban Express employees. James Long, the attorney, demanded "corrective action" immediately due to the damage the company had suffered by having their own posts deleted, and indicated that legal action against him had been authorized by the company.
But, wait, I can already hear you saying: but you promised us this story had a happy ending! Well, it does, courtesy of Ken "Popehat" White.
The legal threat against Finnicum quickly drew promises of support from others on reddit—including Ken White, the lawyer behind the legal blog Popehat. White sent an e-mail to Long, which he also posted to reddit: "I do not represent any party (though I have offered to connect the recipient of your threat with pro bono counsel). However, I am considering writing a post about the matter."
"Would you be willing to answer some questions about your threat?" White continued. "I'm particularly interested in discussing the factual basis for your assertions, how you reconcile your position with Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and your evaluation of risks in light of the Streisand Effect."
The result? A letter from attorney James Long to Finnicum:
"I will confess that I have very limited understanding of Reddit," he wrote, "and your response regarding the thread being moderated by several different individuals was instructive and was confirmed by individuals with much more knowledge of Reddit than I possess. At this time Suburban Express is of the opinion that it is best for the company and all individuals involved with this issue for Suburban Express to move forward with its mission to provide safe, courteous and efficient service to its current and future customers."
They ran away as fast as they could. I'm not sure if they are going to continue legal action against Laval, but if they actually read into the Streisand Effect when Ken White mentioned it, then they already know that they really, really shouldn't.
Anyone who makes a habit of taking a cursory look at news sites is probably aware both of the Genetically Engineered Food Right To Know Act currently in front of Congress, and of a vocal animosity towards genetically modified agriculture. We've discussed GMOs here a few times as well and, yes, I'm perfectly aware that Monsanto is quite likely run by a corporate board that includes Satan, Hitler, and Timothy McVeigh. But that doesn't mean that all genetic techniques for food are bad and it certainly doesn't excuse hysteria-producing misinformation campaigns perpetrated in part by media members.
“Scientists are designing a health and safety cow, genetically altered to have no horns,” claimed the Sunday Times. “Hornless ‘Frankencow’: Genetic engineers aim to create super-bovine,” shouted Russia Today. Geneticists, various reports claimed, are “extracting” a strip of DNA from the genome of one cattle and “implanting” DNA it into another. A stream of stories read like pages from the anti-GMO playbook. The reports were liberally sprinkled with code words about designer animals, transgenics and Frankencows. No wonder people are in a tizzy.
The problem, of course, is that none of those claims are true. They're a complete misunderstanding of the specific science involved in creating, or I would better say encouraging, production of hornless dairy cows. Livestock that are hornless, commonly referred to as polled livestock, occur naturally. More to the point, breeding techniques (read: the original genetic engineering) to produce more polled animals have been around for at least half a century, and likely longer. Scott Fahrenkrug of the University of Minnesota teamed up with other geneticists to form Recombinetics, a company that uses so-called molecular scissors simply to shift natural DNA around within animal genes. In other words, all of the attacks by anti-GMO folks were baseless.
Fahrenkrug’s technique does not involve transgenics, which results from moving genes from one species to another. While utterly safe, the very mention of genetic manipulation enrages anti-GMO activists. In this case, Recomibinetics is mirroring nature—taking snippets of DNA that first appeared through natural, spontaneous mutations in livestock hundreds of years ago to create hornless cows. The snippets are copied—not inserted as various reports had it. They are not moved. No “foreign” DNA is inserted. We’ve been eating these cows and drinking their milk for centuries—so we are sure there are no adverse health consequences.
The entire process could be done through selective breeding. The problem with that is that it would take far more time and would require both the beef and dairy industry to take huge production hits in the meantime as the animals were used. This method doesn't offend Mother Nature beyond making her look less efficient. It produces animals that are genetically the same as what we're already consuming. As the article notes, people should be cheering this technique on, as it results in less animal cruelty and a higher production of milk. Hell, PETA is reportedly on board with this, and they get pissed off over Pokemon games.
The point is that whatever your thoughts on the more invasive GMO techniques, you can't let that mute a demand for factual information. And when we talk about legislation, there needs to be pushback on broadly-worded clauses that function as a catch-all for food technology.
[Fahrenkrug] pointed to a central clause in the “Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act,” introduced in Congress last week. The wording was clearly guided by activists rather than scientists, he told me. For example, the bill now uses a sweeping and very unscientific definition of “genetic engineering” to include “in vitro nucleic acid techniques, including recombinant DNA and direct injection of nucleic acid into cells or organelles.” That’s stunning in its breadth, and would result in mandatory labeling of natural processes, such as those introduced by Fahrenkrug. In effect the poorly written legislation attempts to re-classify some simple techniques used in classical breeding as GMOs—and could in the process endanger the technologically enhanced classic breeding techniques that are poised to revolutionize animal welfare. However intended, that’s just one of many passages in this shabbily written bill that will retard the biotechnology revolution.
Anti-science legislation as a reaction to unsubstantiated fear? This is becoming far too par for the course for my tastes.
We've talked a great deal about how content creators handle derivative works in the past, be it musicians, TV/film makers, or authors. The responses are predictably varied, with some creators embracing derivatives, some abhorring them, some that draw the line on commercial use, and others that use derivatives to build even further works. The least controversial of the lot is work done by fans, of course. Few creators want to go to war with fans that love their work so much they make fan films, or write fan fiction. But what would happen if a creator not only allowed derivatives of their work, but actually made the conscious decision to build an entire platform for it themselves to encourage the practice?
Well, you'd end up with something like h2g2, otherwise known as the fan-created build of the Earth-version of the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. They recently posted on April 28th to celebrate their 14th "birthday", congratulating the community on making the site a wonderful place for Hitchhiker fans to contribute with their own submissions. They also rightly said thanks to the book series' author, Douglas Adams, as it was Adams who started the site from the beginning.
Although h2g2.com might not yet quite be a complete guide to Life, The Universe and Everything it is a thriving online community, where Hitchhiker's fans and many other creative folks can work on The Guide and help fulfill Douglas' vision of a real-life, mostly useful, Earth Edition of his fictional Guide (not, incidentally, a real-life version of the Encyclopedia Galactica).
Today we welcome everyone, active and returning researchers, new researchers, visitors and viewers, to celebrate. Thanks to Douglas Adams, who saw a way to bring his idea of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy into an actual Guide, the Earth Edition, we have been around for 14 internet years!
Resulting in, or from, the immense popularity of the Hitchiker series, h2g2.com is hugely popular with fans. Whether the books caused the site's popularity more than the site has caused sales from the book is an unknown, but that each has an effect on the other is undeniable. The site's history is interesting and somewhat convoluted, but what is unquestioned is Adams' wish to embrace fans of the books and set them off on building their own guide of Earth. And, while ownership of the site has transitioned several times, from Adams to the BBC and so on, it is back in the hands of die-hard fans that have an allegiance to its community. Hell, the site puts out its own broadsheet newspaper.
All of this thanks to an author who wasn't misguided in seeing derivatives as a threat, but rather as a wonderful way to connect with fans, all the while pointing them back to the original works off which they were based.
When we have talked about game developers messing with pirates in the past, I've actually found it quite entertaining. As much as I hate Ubisoft, it made me smile when they released a version of one game that filled the audio up with vuvuzellas if it was a pirated copy. I'd of course prefer they have done something a bit more forward-thinking than simply trolling pirates, but it made me laugh. Certainly I have no sympathy for the pirates, nor for Ubisoft, whose trolling attempt was a minor hiccup corrected when other cracks of the game came out.
The cracked version is nearly identical to the real thing except for one detail… Initially we thought about telling them their copy is an illegal copy, but instead we didn't want to pass up the unique opportunity of holding a mirror in front of them and showing them what piracy can do to game developers. So, as players spend a few hours playing and growing their own game dev company, they will start to see the following message, styled like any other in-game message:
"Boss, it seems that while many players play our new game, they steal it by downloading a cracked version rather than buying it legally. If players don't buy the games they like, we will sooner or later go bankrupt."
It's really hard for me to get mad at them for this. The cracked version doesn't disrupt the entire game, as Ubisoft's vuvuzella did. You do get to try the gameplay out for a bit before encountering the trolling code. It is a bit of passive aggression, but one which both makes a point and isn't angry or mean. Besides that, the effects of the trolling in the responses of some of the infringers are downright hilarious. On forums, the pirates were asking for help, saying things like "Can I research DRM or something?" and "Why are there so many people that pirate? It ruins me!" Detecting irony, it appears, is a skill.
All that said, and perhaps this makes me weird, my first thought once I'd stopped laughing was that the simulator had failed completely. If the result of piracy in the cracked version always results in ruin for the developer, then we know the simulator is flawed. After all, I'm fairly certain folks like Ubisoft, EA, and the like haven't been driven into the ground by piracy. Somehow they are still going strong. And what about indie developers that utilize CwF+RtB, like tinyBuild or contributors to the Humble Bundles? Why isn't there room for all of them within the simulation?
The answer, of course, is this is a trolling attempt, not part of the sim at all. And to their credit, the developers seem to be quite level-headed about piracy in general, particularly when this game's user-base is 94% from unauthorized versions (though that may have been sprung by the developer releasing their own cracked copy).
I'm not mad at you. When I was younger, downloading illegal copies was practically normal but this was mostly because global game distribution was in its infancy. To be fair, there are still individuals who either can't make a legal purchase because of payment-issues or who genuinely cannot afford the game. I don't have a quarrel with you.
Nor I with them, though I'd suggest that perhaps if they had attempted to work some of the aforementioned examples into their simulation, it would have been instructive on how they can actually embrace tactics that can make them a great deal more money than just trolling potential customers.
Just a few weeks back we relayed the news that Washington State was seeking to codify into law an employer's right to ask for the social media passwords of their employees. I continue to be amazed both at why such a law was considered in the first place, as well as why there hasn't been more backlash against it. That said, I imagine the answer to the latter has something to do with the idea that employees and prospective employees could deny that request, so perhaps some people think that there's little to no impact overall. This, on its face, is obviously silly. Were there going to be no impact to denying the request, employers would never make it in the first place. You have to imagine that an employee, and to a larger extent an applicant, is going to face enormous pressure to give the key to their personal sites away, whether that pressure is real or imagined.
However, since the bill hasn't been challenged in the court of public opinion, others are now beginning to follow suit. Such is the case in Illinois, where the state House passed a bill this week, sponsored by Jim Durkin, that gives employers there the same rights. And, of course, it's all done in the name of protecting the workplace.
The Illinois House passed a bill today that would allow employers to request access to employees' personal web accounts used for business purposes, like Facebook and other social networking sites. As if people aren't paranoid enough already. To be clear, the bill does not mandate that employees supply the information, and no one could be fired or penalized for noncompliance. The idea is to allow employers the opportunity to investigate employee misconduct, protect trade secrets, and prevent workplace violence by monitoring online activities. Even without it being mandatory to share your login and password, you could imagine a boss putting a subordinate under some uncomfortable pressure.
A challenge to everyone, if I may. If you were able to somehow catalog and characterize every single instance of employee misconduct, trade secret revealing, and workplace violence, exactly what percentage of them would you guess could have been prevented by proactive investigation of social media? Further, what percentage of such cases are such that the key evidence that would conclude any investigation into them would be only made available with a social media password? These are the kinds of answers with which I would expect proponents of such laws to be beating us over the head, yet you never seem to see any data in the reports. It all essentially comes down to, "We need to give employers the right to ask for social media passwords, because violence, scary internet, and children."
Do you know why we highlight when stupid criminals spurt their stupid juices all over the internet? Because they're the vast exception, not the rule. Creating the kind of animosity between employers and employees such as this bill will do is an awful over-reaction to those stories.
Professional sports leagues in general tend to have some degree of desire in controlling information. Some attempts at control are more sensible than others, however. For instance, taking down streams of the Super Bowl? I get it. It's still stupid, and I don't agree with their logic, but I understand the basis for their logic. Forcing any non-broadcast partners and advertisers to euphamize the biggest spectacle in sports? Well that's just dumb. There's no logic behind that at all. So you see, there's something of a degree or scale to which these control attempts fall.
Well, there was anyway, until the NFL broke the scale with a move so myopic and full of fail that it's difficult to imagine it was made by anyone other than a collection of rocks with a history of rock-head trauma. I'm talking about the NFL clamping down for this year's NFL draft on journalists tweeting out the draft picks before they are announced by Commissioner Roger Goodell on stage. For the majority of you who probably didn't watch the first round of the draft on Thursday, the NFL went as far as to purposefully not show live footage they had of draftees talking on the phone with the team picking them, so as not to tip anyone off that they'd been drafted. Even more fun, the on-screen talent went out of their way to remind you over and over and over again that they were withholding information so that you wouldn't know until the moment they wanted you to know. The gentlemen's agreement the NFL has with ESPN, and obviously their edict to NFL Network reporters, meant you also wouldn't find out any tipped draft information on Twitter.
That is, of course, unless you follow any sports journalist not affiliated with those two entities. What the NFL seems to have forgotten is that the NFL Network and ESPN aren't the only people reporting on the draft and that their desires are meaningless to reporters over which they have no leverage. One example of such a reporter, and in my opinion he's one of the best follows for NFL news, is CBS's Jason La Canfora. He wasn't having anything to do with the lockdown.
He intends to tweet as much as possible. Beware: that includes upcoming picks before they are revealed on TV (if he gets them) to his nearly 300,000 followers. He also will be contributing updates to CBSSports.com.
"We're not a broadcast partner for the draft," La Canfora said. "I will be trying to get the information out as quickly and accurately as possible. What event is made more for Twitter than the NFL draft? If the teams have the information; if the guys in the production truck have the information; if the commissioner has the information; why wouldn't passionate football fans want it as well?"
In round 1 of the draft, La Canfora did exactly as he promised. If you were watching the NFL draft to find out who picked who, you got that information somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes later than La Canfora's 300k followers. No, that time difference isn't a big deal. No, I'm not saying the NFL can't run their business however they choose. But if you're going to force certain broadcasters to lock up information that is available elsewhere, and brag about it no less, all you're telling me is that the place I should be going to for NFL news isn't the NFL or ESPN.
Companies using DMCA claims as censorship typically fall into one of two categories. Either the company thinks it's somehow losing money over posted content, or they are looking to silence crticism. This is a story about the latter and how the attempt Streisand-apulted (this should undoubtedly be a word) CipherCloud into an internet frenzy over how the company achieves the encryption they purport to do.
For the purposes of background, CipherCloud runs an online service for encrypting any data that is stored in other cloud-based services, such as public email systems or CRM. It's essentially a promise to make your cloud data private. As adoption of cloud-based services continues to progress, this would seemingly be a valuable service to use, assuming it works as well as they claim. The problem is that the company doesn't get into many specifics over how they achieve any of this, leaving it to internet forums like StackExchange and their users to try and figure it out. That particular string covers a technical but important question raised by a forum member last August.
Last August, when someone posted a question about CipherCloud’s service to StackExchange, a popular question and answer site for software developers. “How is CipherCloud doing homomorphic encryption?” the question read.
That’s a geeky question, but an honest one. CipherCloud’s service is designed to encrypt data stored in exiting online applications without hampering the way these applications operate, and that’s not an easy thing to do. If you encrypt a collection of data, for instance, you may have trouble searching that data. One solution is a technique called “homomorphic encryption,” which would let users manipulate encrypted data as if it wasn’t encrypted — and that’s what the question was getting at.
The question received several answers, with the consensus being that the service likely was not doing homomorphic encryption, since that's a technology that isn't really ready for wider use as of yet. Instead, forum users posted a CipherCloud white paper, a corporate promotional video, and a presentation from a security conference by the company to try to figure out exactly what CipherCloud's service was doing. Most of them settled on the idea that deterministic encryption was being done instead. That technique is generally considered a weak form of encryption. And there the post sat for months. And months. Mostly unnoticed.
Until, that is, CipherCloud decided to see how badly they could shoot themselves in their own feet.
On Saturday, the company sent a DMCA takedown notice and defamation complaint to StackExchange. With its letter, CipherCloud complained that StackExchange users violated its intellectual property in posting its marketing materials to the site and that defamed its operation in misrepresenting the way its technology works. The users guessed that CipherCloud used something called deterministic encryption, a relatively weak form of security. The company said this is not the case, pointing out that one of the posters, Sid Shetye, is the CEO of CipherDb, a company that competes with CipherCloud in some ways.
A couple things here. It's difficult to understand how a defamation case works when the forum posts made it clear they were simply speculating based on the marketing material at hand. That's not defamation. Secondly, the idea of sending a copyright takedown notice over marketing material may just be the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. The entire point of marketing is to spread it as far and wide as possible. Using the DMCA notice this way makes it clear that this isn't about copyright at all, but rather about silencing criticism or, in this case, speculation (which is worse, by the way).
And, finally, it's fun to note that this move will ultimately fail in both the legal realm and in purpose. The EFF has already weighed in, stating that it's clear that use of the marketing material fell under Fair Use and that the defamation claim is laughably without merit.
“I don’t think there’s a court in the country that would hold [the posters] liable for defamation,” [Corynne McSherry of the EFF] says. And if CipherCloud did try to bring defamation charges against the users, she says, the company could be exposed to a potential counter suit under SLAPP laws, which are designed to prevent individuals or companies from using bogus lawsuits to silence critics.
Of course, this previously little-heard-of forum and the questions it posed have now been splashed all over Reddit, Slashdot, Hacker News, and now here. All over a meritless DMCA notice for a forum half a year old. Well done, CipherCloud.
Of course I have. How could I NOT be aware of one of the greatest misnomers every created? Constitutional monarchies, when properly constructed, are NOT monarchies at all. To evidence this, one needs only look at the prime examples of so-called constitutional monarchies.
4. New Zealand
If you actually believe that any one of those examples is in any way beyond ceremonial functioning even in part as an actual monarchy, you don't know the meaning of the word. Those are all republics or democracies, and thank God for that.
"in many cases(listed in the link) its the only way a system will turn from absolute monarchy to any other system without violent insurrection."
Nonsense. Since none of those are actual monarchies in any functioning way and since some of them underwent relatively bloodless transitions from actual monarchies to their present system, your point is completely disproved.
"you cant really say our system works any better then theirs really"
I'm sorry, I can't say our government works better than a theocratic monarchy? I most certainly can.
"our politicians do whatever is best for themselves and the corporate masters, not whats best for We The People, or the nation as a whole..."
That certainly occurs far too often, but not being as good as we should doesn't make us as bad as others.
" I think your a big short sighted and have this impression that our systems the best system"
Incorrect, but I do believe democratic concepts are the best for of government yet devised. That doesn't mean we can't do it better, or that others aren't currently doing it better, but it does mean it's better in principal than a theocratic monarchy.
"There are schools of thought that suggest you need to be part of a system before you can effect change on it. You can look at his actions as cowardice or a recognition that the way he was going he'd be unable to do anything to improve the situation."
"Come on now. Monarchies have performed well in the past, don't be a hater."
Monarchies are an un-enlightened form of government stemming from the divine right of kings, itself a scandalous concept. I will be a hater of that, thank you very much.
"There's not really any system of government that works,"
Some work better than others. Do you really suppose that the Saudi government retains its monarchy because it thinks it's the best government for its people?
"calling out this guy because of who his parents were is a bit weak."
Feel free to show me where he said he renounced his monarchy title and I'll happily take back what I said. As it stands, this is a man who has donated money to Palestinian "martyrs", spends his free time "throwing dwarves" for sport, and he is at best a timid revolutionary and at worst a defector from Democracy.
See, his highness once, long ago, criticized Saudi Arabia for being a monarchy and stumped for a democratic reform of government. Then the Saudi rulers struck back in the form of seizing his assets and forcing him into exile. Since then he's reconciled with the Saudi royal family and, while still suggesting greater citizen participation in government, his revolutionary tone has softened considerably.
“If there is a lesson to be learned from the Arab Spring, it is that the winds of change that are now blowing in the Middle East will eventually reach every Arab state,” he wrote. “Now is therefore an opportune time, particularly for the Arab monarchical regimes”—for instance, Saudi Arabia’s—“which still enjoy a considerable measure of public goodwill and legitimacy, to begin adopting measures that will bring about greater participation of the citizenry in their countries’ political life.”
See the difference? No longer stumping for democracy, he now sees the storm of revolution coming and hopes the monarchs will stave it off with a wall of pretend kindness to its own people.
There's no doubt the Prince is relatively progressive. Just don't expect me to laud a man for going exactly not far enough....
"Dear Saudi Telecommunication Authority, social media is a tool for the people to make the government hear their voices. Just thinking of blocking them is a losing war, and a way to put more pressure on the citizens"
Dear sweet Prince: Democracy is a tool for the people to make the government hear their voices. Just thinking of continuing an antiquated form of government like theocratic monarchy is a losing war, and a way to put more pressure on your citizens.
Oddly, the science seems to suggest that on that point, he'd be right. The studies I've seen seem to suggest that while sexuality is influenced from birth, right around the ages of 4-5 years old is when it is solidified.
The point, of course, is that at 4-5 years old, very little is choice, and most actions are the result of a combination of instinct and environment. Homosexuality is naturally occurring. It is no more choice than heterosexuality.
Even more striking, chances are sexuality is on a spectrum, not a fork in the road. It's quite likely that all of us are some gay, some straight, with the degrees on either side defining our love lives. I rather enjoy this thought, since I enjoy inclusion, and that would make us all members of the same variable spectrum, rather than opposite sides of some non-existent sexual coin....
Pedophilia, to which I'm sure you're referring, and homosexuality, are not even remotely the same thing. One is a psychiatric disorder while the other is a non-disorder occurring predictably by percentage in certain species.
""Your world" as you call it... is THE world thatGod created. Therefore... He owns it."
What God creates, he owns. Thank you for exemplifying for me why I dislike theism so much. I'll take a deistic or atheistic viewpoint over one in which I must never-endingly praise the dear leader who owns me, as if he were some celestial Kim Jong Un.
"You twist His word to work the way you want it to."
Says the guy with a book claiming to be the word of God, yet it was hand-picked by a bunch of dudes in dresses.
"You will suffer the penalty because all who deny Him will burn in hell forever."
Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, on display for anyone on the fence, my friends....
"So anyone who doesn't blindly accept gay marriage is on 'the wrong side of history,' according to you?"
Of course. The progression of logic is quite simple. If you believe that homosexuality occurs in nature (and it does, in multiple species) and you believe that beings who are the way they were created who don't harm others should be afforded the same rights as everyone else, the conclusion is quite simple: if straights can marry, gays can marry. Bringing religion into it muddies an otherwise simple issue.
To be clear, people are allowed to have whatever religious belief they like. That's their right. What they cannot LOGICALLY do is use a bigoted religion to justify bigotry, then claim they aren't bigoted. It's really just that simple.
"Nintendo doesn't care about the homosexual aspect. That probably didn't even come to mind."
Then they must be the only company their size without a PR department. The concept above is, flatly, nonsense. This caused a significant stir and a fair amount of coverage in Japan. The company no longer has a choice in whether or not to take a stance. They're forced into it.
Patching the bug in a way that disallows gay relationships is taking a stance against giving gay gamers the same choices as straight gamers. If the bug was such that the only way to fix any part of it was to fix ALL of it, they could have released a statement along with the patch that promised to re-allow gay relationships. They didn't. They ARE taking a stance, and they're on the wrong side of history.
Just so I'm clear, part of the fix disallows men being allowed to have relationships with men, and you're siding with Nintendo on this one?
I don't give a rat's ass about cultural differences when it comes to basic human rights and the recognition that homosexuals are every bit as human as anyone else IS a basic human right. Just as I won't excuse some theocratic nations for the abhorrent way they treat their women, nor will I excuse Japan or Nintendo for this....
"It's pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking that has no basis or grounding whatsoever in the reality on the ground. Understand this: the majority of the citizens of the countries in the MidEast DO NOT WANT democracy."
All of what should be the nation of Kurdistan vehemently disagrees w/you....