Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the this-comment-is-now-diamonds dept

The winner for most insightful this week was short and to the point: a comment from weneedhelp, responding to my point about how the FBI taking down LulzSec was unlikely scare others into hacking less — and might go in the other direction. I suggested this was the opposite of what the FBI wanted… but the comment argued it may be exactly what they wanted:

Whacking the bee’s nest to justify more beekeepers. Law enforcement knows exactly what they are doing.

Coming in second was Rich Kulawiec’s comment responding to the FBI’s fear mongering over why we should all be shaking in fear over cybercrime. Rich suggested that the whole thing was kabuki theater:

First, the feds have (and have had, for many years) enormous IT security problems. For example, let’s start with the FBI: FBI lost 160 laptops in last 44 months. Does anything think they ONLY lost 160 laptops? Does anyone think that this problem has been solved?

Then let’s move on the federal government as whole: Half of Fortune 500s, US Govt. Still Infected with DNSChanger Trojan which is pretty bad — but only focuses on ONE species of malware. Surely nobody is naive to think that this is the only one infesting federal computer systems.

The GAO routinely issues F grades in IT security to federal agencies, and they’re being generous. Things were so bad at point that a judge ordered the Department of Interior disconnected from the Internet.

Second, the feds’ proposed solutions to any of this are initiatives, checklists, guidelines, procedures, regulations, audits, certifications…none of which have any security value. Oh, and most of them involve huge contracts outsourcing the tasks to the pigs at the trough: companies like StratFor, run by utterly incompetent morons who are quite willing to use Google in return for tens of millions of federal dollars.

As Wired so aptly put it, Cyberwar Is the New Yellowcake: nobody, including Mueller actually cares about cyberwar: what they care about is ending an open Internet. They want control of ISPs and web hosts, they want information feeds from mobile providers and GPS devices, they want spyware embedded in computers, they want…they want everything they can possibly get, and they think that pushing the scare of cyberwar is the way to get it.

So there will be bill after stupid bill, pushed along by the feeble-minded idiots in Congress, and eventually one of them (or maybe more than one of them) will pass, and the end result will be that it will make computing LESS secure…but it will be trumpeted as a triumph, there will be handshakes all around, and then the competition over who can waste the most money will begin in earnest.

For editor’s choice, we’ve got a comment from jupiterkansas responding to the idea that the RIAA thinks that a little “education” is what’s needed to stop infringement. They’ve been doing lots of education already:

The RIAA has taught me a lot about copyright. They taught me that copyright law has robbed the world of a public domain and locked up our culture in corporate holdings and turned art into “property” that can only be protected with legislation and ultimately only profits lawyers and accountants.

It’s thanks to the RIAA that I follow Techdirt and Lawrence Lessig and the EFF and Public Knowledge and all the other organizations that have mobilized to reform copyright and make the public aware of all the damage the copyright reliant industries have caused.

It’s thanks to the RIAA that I seek out creative and independent musicians who are NOT a member of their organization, and actually give them money to see them perform or buy new music directly from them.

It’s thanks to the RIAA that I contacted my senators to tell them to not support SOPA.

It’s thanks to the RIAA that I have to pirate their member’s music that isn’t available for sale in my country because… for no good reason.

Oh, and the MPAA too.

Then we have steve’s comment in response to the FBI/cybercrime story, which he used to point out that just the fact that they’re separating “cybercrime” out from crime shows how badly the FBI doesn’t get it:

The problem is that people tend to divide the world into people who understand computers and people who don’t. The distinction between a games programmer and a DBA is lost on them.

For that reason, the idea of setting up a department of people like McGee from NCIS, who seems to know everything about everything. This means that when they have a problem with mortgages, the cybercrime dept can swing into action, etc.

The problem is that they have failed to understand that a) McGee is fictional. b) Computers are not separate from normal crime. Everything uses computers now. I think it’s scary that they think it’s acceptable to have investigators who aren’t tech savvy, and to have investigative divisions without expert tech support.

They would be better off having specialist mortgage fraud investigators, some of whom are experts in the computer problems mortgage fraud investigators face dedicated to the area, than expert geeks with only a hazy understanding of the specific problems of mortgage fraud being shared across multiple departments.

On the funny side, taking the top position was MrWilson’s comment about Warner Bros’ silly Disc to Digital process and the idea that this would help the movie studios evolve:

And then maybe they just put it online with an easily to use interface so that customers don’t have to come to the store. And then they offer it for free. And they host it in a distributed network of peers that share files with other peers.

OMG, they’re the pirate bay in an early stage of evolution!

Coming in second was an explanation for how buying directly from artists hurts artists. This was in response to the band Streetlight Manifesto telling fans to buy direct from it rather than from retailers because all that money goes to their label instead of them, and they’re involved in a disagreement over royalty payments.

But if you buy directly from the artist you’re just hurting the artists!

You see, if the artist gets too much money (as in any money) from their music sales they won’t be encouraged to create more music!

The artist will just spend all their time sleeping on piles on money, and complaining about making too much money come tax time! It may sound funny complaining about making too much money, but believe me, it’s no laughing matter when you have to pay over 30% of your income to uncle Sam!

Artists need good Samaritans like Victory Records to take the heavy sacrifice of dealing with these kinds of problems caused by making too much money!

For editor’s choice, we’ll start with an Anonymous Coward on the FBI/cybcrime post questioning the use of the cyber prefix by “remixing” Leigh’s original post:

CyberFBI CyberDirector Robert Mueller recently cyberspoke at a cybersecurity cyberconference where he cyberreiterated his cyberbelief that so-called cybercybercrime will soon surpass cyberterrorism as the biggest cyberthreat in CyberAmerica. Perhaps this cybermeans that the CyberFBI plans to start cybermanufacturing cyber-threats like they do with cyberterrorist cyberplots – or perhaps it cybermeans that, as some cyberpeople have been cybersaying for cyberyears, cybercybercrime is just cybercrime. Of course, in a cyberroom full of cyberprofessionals who cyberstand to make more cybermoney if cyberpeople are cyberscared of online cyberthreats, he’s not cyberlikely to get a lot of cyberargument.

That’s not cybermeant to cyberdismiss cybersecurity cyberprofessionals – cyberobviously they do a lot of important cyberwork, and cyberobviously the CyberFBI is going to cyberneed their cyberassistance for plenty of cyberthings. But to cybercall cybercybercrime the cybercountry’s biggest cyberthreat is to cyberlump a whole cyberbunch of unrelated cybercrimes, most of which aren’t even cybernew:

“‘We are losing cyberdata, we are losing cybermoney, we are losing cyberideas and we are losing cyberinnovation,’ Mueller cybersaid at the RSA CyberConference in CyberSan CyberFrancisco. ‘Together we must cyberfind a cyberway to cyberstop the cyberbleeding.'”

The cyberdangers posed by cyberorganized cyber-cybercrime, cyberrogue cyberhacktivists and computer cyberbreaches cyberbacked by foreign cybergovernments have become a cyberfocus for the CyberFBI.

Countercyberterrorism is still the cyberagency’s top cyberpriority, but the cyberagency has recybertooled to cyberprepare for Internet-based cyberaggressors, Mueller said. Cyber-cybersquads in every CyberFBI cyberfield cyberoffice now cybermonitor for cybercrimes ranging from cybermortgage and cyberhealth cybercare cyberfraud to cyberchild cyberexploitation and cyberterror cyberrecruiting, he cybersaid.

Presumably the CyberFBI already has cyberpeople cyberspecializing in cybermortgage and cyberhealth cybercare cyberfraud, cyberchild cyberexploitation and cyberterror cyberrecruiting – so why cyberportion off the “cyber” cyberversions of these cybercrimes into a separate “cybersquad”? To then cybercombine those cyberthings with cyberhacktivism and online cyberespionage just cybermakes the cybercategory of “cybercybercrime” utterly cybermeaningless. It is cyberindicative of their cyberstruggle (which cybermirrors that of cybergovernments, the cyberentertainment cyberindustry and cyberothers) to cyberunderstand a cybercore cyberconcept: the internet is not a cyberseparate cyberthing. And even if there is a good cyberadministrative cyberreason for cyberorganizing things in this cyberway, it is highly cybermisleading to cybercall such a cyberdiverse cyberarray of cybercrimes a single giant cyberthreat.

And, finally, we’ve got Torg trying to explain the difference between crappy ads and ads you want:

Hello, companies. Look at your ads. Now back to me. Now back to your ads, now back to me. Sadly, they aren’t me. But if you stopped putting flashing “shoot the watermelon” banners on the top of the page and switched to funding music videos they could sell things like me. Look down. Back up. Where are you? You’re in a bank with the ad your ads could sell like. What’s in your hand? Back at me. I have it. It’s a ratings chart with record sales for that thing you love. Look again. The ratings are now diamonds. Anything is possible when your ad sells like Old Spice and not like a flash game. I’m on a horse.

If only most brands got that…

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Comments on “Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt”

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Jay (profile) says:

Addition to Rich's assessment

I’d like to add to this by stating I’ve been looking at the DoJ’s budget requests for 2013. It’s quite disturbing that more attention isn’t being paid to what the DoJ is asking for.

2013 Budget

Look at the prisoners and detentions and you’ll see the problem that I see with their requests:

$8.6 billion for federal prisons and detention
–$141.2 million in Program Increases (4.5% increase from 2012)
–$223.9 million in prison and detention adjustments to maintain current services
— $141.2 million for program increases to ensure prisoners are confined in secure facilities and to improve prisoner reentry
$6.8 billion to Bureau of Prisons
4.1% increase ($268.9 million) from 2012

This seems like a bit much to ask for when crime rates are still falling by the FBI’s standards.

But of course, the devil is in the details. As I looked at the budget request, I saw two new prisons being opened as well as $22 million dollars for 210 correctional officers.

Even to me that seems quite exorbitant and there’s been nothing discussed about how out of touch our laws are to other countries. Also consider that prison guards make more than those with Harvard degrees. We’ve put so much money into detentions that something has to give.

Now let’s get to the actual prisons:

$55.5 million
activation of two prisons, U.S. Penitentiary Yazoo City, MS (1,216 beds), and FCI Hazelton, WV (1,280 beds)
$25.8 million to procure 1,000 new contract beds
$59.9 million in program increases – federal detention to pay for increases in the average daily detainee population and inflationary increases for detention related costs.

This is the aspect that I saw that was most puzzling and I doubt many lawmakers would notice it.

They’re activating two new prisons, and procuring 1000 new beds. Last I checked, beds in prison were not Tempur-pedic. So they pay for extra expenses such as transport and gas… But what happens to the extra funds? Why does each bed cost $25,800 for each prison mate?
And why is our government itching to put more people in jail even though there is so little return on investment? Well, the big return is to the private prisons industry. Arizona has had story after story about the prisons. But it’s not alone. The same story keeps playing out about how crony capitalism has taken over and those in charge don’t represent the people’s interest. Hell, even judges have gotten involved!

The point here is that the DoJ is overreaching by a lot. They’re requesting money they don’t need to and there is a ton of evidence that the money will be used to expand on all forms of law, make more people guilty before being found innocent and imprison people such as Anonymous to punish them for victimless crimes with mandatory sentencing.

This isn’t justice that law enforcement is looking for.

It’s a plutocratic system that is going to war with America’s citizens.

Anonymous Coward says:

Addition to Rich's assessment

What would be interesting is if someone can do a study on the crime inflation rate.

Perhaps someone can (or has) compare(d) how many successful convictions, probations, detainments/detentions, paid fines (even including parking tickets), and other forms of penalties and punishments, have occurred as a result of breaking laws that were created before various years; like 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, etc… and determine the percentage increase of new criminals and tort violators resulting from new laws. Then we can better decipher the ‘nominal’ crime rate, increased crime rates due to new laws, from the ‘real’ crime rate, differences in crime rates relative to a fixed set of laws (kinda like nominal GDP vs Real GDP in economics).

The crime, misdemeanor, or violation inflation rate could also include increased penalties and fines due to things like red light and speeding cameras and other new occurrences that facilitate enforcement but do a poor job of reflecting actual changes in crime rates.

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

Addition to Rich's assessment

It’s not just small-time criminal acts like not paying your parking tickets. The endless expansion of federal crimes is also a concern. At some point in the past, the federal government decided that a criminal act can be completely divorced from criminal intent, opening the door for a whole new set of inadvertent criminals.

“Back in 1790, the first federal criminal law passed by Congress listed fewer than 20 federal crimes. Today there are an estimated 4,500 crimes in federal statutes, plus thousands more embedded in federal regulations, many of which have been added to the penal code since the 1970s.”

“In one case, Gary Hancock of Flagstaff, Ariz., was found guilty in 1999 of violating a federal law prohibiting people with a misdemeanor domestic violence record from gun ownership. At the time of his domestic-violence convictions in the early 1990s, the statute didn’t exist?but later it was applied to him. He hadn’t been told of the new law, and he still owned guns. Mr. Hancock was convicted and sentenced to five years’ probation.

His lawyer, Jane McClellan, says prosecutors ‘did not have to prove he knew about the law. They only had to prove that he knew he had guns.'”

And so on. Full paper on this expansion here:

And a follow-up here:

(Thanks for the plug, AC.)

Anonymous Coward says:

I?m Trying To Promote The Term ?Intellectual-Propertarian? ...

Just call them what they are, IP extremists. They are extremists and their extreme position is mostly self serving.

In fact, these people don’t really believe that these laws are publicly beneficial or moral, it’s just that IP extremists are mostly dishonest and only care about themselves and not morals.

Anonymous Coward says:

Addition to Rich's assessment

The problem is that the private prison industry has invested in lobbying to such an extent they are now campaign managers for politicians and writing bilss – such as Az’s “papers please” SB1070 law. Two new prison’s opened up to house illegals which was their intent, paid for by state and federal tax dollars.

Now you have a private industry, that uses taxdollars for capital and maintence, and is almost guarenteed not to fail. BTW, in most areas the prision industry is similar to a monopoly – kinda like employer paid health insurance.

That’s exactly the same type of model that grew health insurance corporations (under 10 major companies for the entire US) and drove up costs per year – until they became another industry that was “too big to fail”.

Isn’t that very close to the model RIAA and MPAA are using too? We are talking about less than 10 major media corporations controlling the bulk of media content most people are exposed to every day.

This kind of an economy just is NOT sustainable. That’s what they don’t get.

Anonymous Coward says:

google is NOT going to be happy with you Masnick !!!, it’s not been a good week for you, judging by the number of comments on your recent posts.

This keeps up you might have to actually work for a living !

this generally happens because everytime you say something, it is always the same rant, you’ve pressed those buttons too often! You’re going to have to come up with some other way to incide your particular brand of hatred and greed.

or possibly it’s just that everyone is sick of the half assed, consistantly poor quality offerings, or they have finally worked out your motive (MONEY!!!!!).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

So if everyone’s sick of the lack of quality here or his motives, why do they keep coming back?

In fact, wouldn’t YOUR time, daryl, be better spent doing something else rather than coming here to read the same old diatribe that Mike regularly post? You know, you could be doing something productive like hmm… I don’t know… learning proper grammar and use of the English language.

There’s this thing I do in regards to crappy tv or music or books. If I don’t like them or they’re stupid or whatever I AVOID THEM. I don’t watch, listen to, or read things that are the same nonsense over and over. I act like an adult and move on and completely ignore them. You seem incapable of doing this, you also seem to love insulting Mike. As has been pointed out before, before you insult others, make sure there’s no way at all that the same can be done to you.

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