Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the great-a'tuin dept

This week, Kirby Delauter realized that Kirby Delauter had made a mistake in claiming that a newspaper wasn’t allowed to write about Kirby Delauter. For that, at least, we gave him kudos — but one anonymous commenter went further, suggesting he should resign from the Maryland council. That seemed a bit extreme, as Sneeje pointed out, earning him first place for insightful:

Hmmm, I don’t agree with that. I think zero-tolerance principles are misguided and wrong.

The concept that public officials can never make substantial mistakes without resigning is a) contrary to the human condition, and b) contrary to our best interests.

For a), we’re all flawed humans and we make mistakes–its part of how we learn and part of how we innovate and grow. That doesn’t mean damn the consequences, but it does mean that we need our leaders and administrators to feel they have some ability to use judgment and take risks. Otherwise, we’re led to b).

For b), it is in our best interests that public officials feel safe to admit mistakes. If every significant mistake results in scorched earth, we’ll end up with the result we often see today: no one admits mistakes even in the face of overwhelming evidence because the personal cost is too high. I contend that a situation where the public official admits their mistakes, is possibly punished, but remains in place, is the best possible outcome. There is a limit of course, and that’s what makes this hard, but zero mistakes should not be the limit.

In keeping with the topic of unrealistic demands, the MPAA wants ISPs to block websites “at the border”. Our second place comment on the insightful side comes from Rich Kulawiec, who elucidated just how stupid that is:

So just break the Internet, and all will be well

This argument demonstrates a stunning lack of clue about how the Internet actually works. A full dissection will have to wait, but the TL;DR version is there is no border.

Networks have seamlessly crossed international boundaries for decades, often with disregard for the short-sighted politicians seeking to stop them from doing so. (Remember kremvax, anyone?) The transnational nature of the Internet is so deeply embedded in its implementation that changing that would require ripping it out completely and starting over. (Attempts to do — see “China” — have not been entirely successful, to say the least.)

One might as well enact regulations to stop the free flow of air molecules from foreign countries.

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we start out with one more comment from that post. This time, it’s an anonymous commenter summing up what the old media guard really wants:

What they want is their old broadcast radio/TV and movie theater set up back. Where consumers could do nothing except pick what channel to watch, and had to be sure they didn’t miss a show because there were no darn cassette tapes or VCRs, much less these newfangled DVRs to record things. No stupid VHS, much less DVDs or god forbid Blu-rays. If people wanted to see a movie, they had to flock to the theaters while the movie was still playing.

In short, the MPAA and the RIAA want it to be the 1950s or 1960s again, where they could have absolute control over distribution because there was no practical means of the average person recording anything. This new scary internet era where people expect to watch what they want to watch, when they want to watch it, and record it or purchase it and change formats as they see fit is something they do not want. People no longer have to prioritize tv shows, or movies, or songs on the radio over anything else. The “consumers” are now accustomed to dictating everything about their entertainment.

It’s like the MPAA and RIAA were accustomed to serving people whatever the cafeteria happened to be doling out, but now people are going to the grocery store and picking and making their own meals instead. The MPAA and RIAA think that’s nice and all, but they really just want people to be stuck accepting whatever meal the cafeteria happens to be serving again.

Next, we’ve got another anonymous comment, coming in response to a Spanish judge’s treatment of security as a sign of guilt and making an oft-overlooked point about adopting encryption:

This is why we should Encrypt All The Things

This has been mentioned as far back as the time when PGP was first released.

The most important reason for everyone to encrypt their communications, even when there’s no real need, is so that those who do have good reasons to encrypt their communications don’t stand out.

If everyone sends their mail in postcards, those who use envelopes look suspicious; if everyone sends their mail in envelopes, nobody looks suspicious.

Over on the funny side, we start out on our big list of works that should have entered the public domain this year, which included a well-known Chuck Berry tune. For mudlock, suddenly everything clicked into place:

Johnny B. Goode

It all makes sense now! That’s why Back to the Future has that Johnny B. Goode number, and why they travel to 2015 in Back to the Future II, because that’s when it was suppose to become public domain!

Clearly, by traveling back in time, Marty McFly caused both the 1976 Act AND the Sonny Bono act to happen!

Dammit Marty, didn’t Doc tell you that anything you do could alter the timestream?!

In second place, we’ve got a response to the latest attack on EasyDNS by Andy Lehrer, whose litigious behaviour often invokes a well-known Effect. Since Mike recently staked claim to use of its common name, one commenter re-dubbed it Barbra, and suggested Lehrer had doubled down on it. But Not_So_Anonymous-aka-NSA had a better phrasing:

Let’s just call it B.S. here. Doubled down on B.S.

For editor’s choice on the funny side, let’s throw in one more (anonymous) comment from that post, since it quotes one of my personal favorite parodist-satirists:

I think this quote applies to the Litigious Mister Lehrer.

“If complete and utter chaos was lightning, then he’d be the sort to stand on a hilltop in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armour and shouting ‘All gods are bastards!”

— Terry Pratchett, The Color of Magic

Speaking of satire, we saw what we’re almost certain was a very dry, very well-crafted example of the form this week: an editorial about hate speech that tobogganed down the slippery slope as if to show everyone just how slippery it is. Our second editor’s choice goes to GMacGuffin for responding in kind:

So we have a group of Techdirt writers — who read, research, write about, and basically live with these issues all day every day — discussing at length whether an article about banning hate speech is satire. Apparently still without consensus.

The general public is certainly less likely to spot the satire than this group of subject-matter educated writers. Therefore the article, spreading via its own controversy, is likely to breed more converts to the destruction of free speech than “ah-hahs” at its cleverness. The potential damage to freedoms is incalculable.

Clearly, it’s satire that should be banned.

That’s all for this week, folks!

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