Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the brands-and-bands dept

This week, the man behind the Stanford Prison Experiment went on a tear against videogames and all sorts of associated culture (reduced to its most gauche symbols). PaulT took first place for insightful by tearing apart his vitriol:

“When I’m in class, I’ll wish I was playing World of Warcraft”

…as opposed to the “I’ll wish I was doing almost anything else” that was the norm before WoW existed? Or, is he pretending that the world was full of dedicated studious children before that?

“When I’m with a girl, I’ll wish I was watching pornography, because I’ll never get rejected.”

Because porn is a brand new thing that never existed before the internet, and teenagers would never fear rejection if it weren’t for porn?

“Zimbardo defines excessive porning and video gaming as more than five hours a day”

How does this compare to other similar activities such as watching TV? I’ll never take any of these people seriously if they pretend that watching hours of trashy reality TV and soaps is OK or that lounging around watching football is fine but it suddenly becomes a problem when you have a controller in your hand.

“He added that young men are drinking Coke instead of alcohol and becoming “fat-asses.”

…because nobody got fat from drinking beer? Because instead of a fatass playing games in their room, what you really need is a pissed-up teenager with nothing productive to do outside the home?

“Unsurprisingly, Zimbardo has recently published a book dealing with these very issues.”

Ah, OK. So, instead of a dickhead being paranoid about videogames and presenting half-assed research and long-outdated stereotypes as mere fearmongering, he’s doing it to make money from book sales? That’s not better.

What a shame that people will swallow this rubbish rather than dealing with some of the real issues (such as parents who use games and TV as babysitters because they don’t have time for productive parenting, have swallowed the 24 hour news cycle exaggeration of danger outside the home, etc).

Meanwhile, in a guest post, law professor Michael Carrier laid out countless examples of how technology has benefited musicians, and jupiterkansas won second place for insightful by pointing out that not only does this disprove the RIAA’s idea that the music world is ending, it makes them look pretty useless, too:

This article lists over a dozen services that any of the major record labels had more than enough resources to create in the last 20 years as a service to musicians – the kind of service they’re supposed to be providing. It’s their own fault they couldn’t see the future past the bottom line.

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we start out with the story of yet another company trying to retain ownership of the stuff it sells you via copyright on the software. In this case it was John Deere, prompting one anonymous commenter to point out just how absurd the entire idea is:

Additionally, there is about zero market for pirated tractor software. The software is useless unless you own a compatible tractor (and thus you already own a copy of the software.) The copy protection does nothing legitimate.

Next, we’ve got a response from John Fenderson to the latest murmurs from the Internet Security Task Force (actually a coalition of movie studios) — not so much its unsurprisingly-ridiculous statements, but its blatantly manipulative branding:

I also like how they call themselves the Internet Security Task Force (ISTF). This is obviously intended to cause confusion with the legitimate and not-corporate-lobby-group, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). They’re probably hoping that they will benefit from the established legitimacy of the IETF.

Way to not be sleazy, guys!

Speaking of entertainment branding, our first place comment on the funny side this week comes in response to the cable industry’s decision to distance itself from the word “cable” and drop “The Cable Show” as the name of its annual trade conference. One anonymous commenter had a suggested alternative:

Ok let’s just call it the Anti-consumer Show then.

Next, we’ve got a bit of an odd one. The aforementioned post about the benefits of technology for creators, and the lies and failures of the RIAA, prompted a vicious but completely-unsupported rebuttal from someone named Phil. It certainly didn’t seem like a joke, so the fact that it won second place for funny really illustrates the difference between “laughing with” and “laughing at”:

As a professional musician earning a terrible living in the industry since 1999, I want to say that the level of ignorance of what musicians are dealing with in 2015 expressed by the authors of this blog and by the commentors here is astounding and depressing. In the 5 minutes I spent reading this rant and the comments that followed it, I was overwhelmed by the number of misinformed or logically faulty arguments expressed. I love debating on the internet and I’ve had no problem dealing with presidential elections, hot-button social issues, pressing scientific controversies, etc. But the sheer asshattery and blindness expressed here just leaves me speechless. All of you musically ignorant fucks completely deserve the dark ages of original music that is forming even as you dissemble and make endless excuses for the low value that our modern economy has affixed to original music… That sad thing is that from what I can tell, most Americans’ musical literacy is so abysmal that they will never be aware of what they have lost.

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we’ve got two quick and punchy lines. First, a response from Michael to Wyoming’s attempt to control reporters and hide the fact that its streams are contaminated with e. coli:

Bullshit in streams leads to bullshit in legislature.

Finally, we’ve got what might be the simplest, most elegant response possible to the sad, amusing announcement that Verizon is buying AOL:

Two turkeys don’t make an eagle.

That’s all for this week, folks!

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Anonymous Coward says:

Video Games and Drones

One thing I don’t get is that a lot of people who oppose fear mongering about video games will rage on and on about the US’s use of military drones. I can understand when people oppose the use of military strikes in general, but what’s the difference between a drone strike and a cruise missile or smart bomb being dropped by a B-2?

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: The difference is not in the technology...

The difference is how the technology has been used.

In the 20th century we knew that dropping bombs on civilians was wrong. We did it anyway. We fretted about it and tried to reserve that choice as a late resort (much in the spirit Sun Tzu’s doctrine about sieging cities). This is why Operation Arc Light — Carpet bombing no-fly zones in North Vietnam — was done in secret as a necessary but shameful act.

And yes, military policy has always been to understate casualties to the public rather than admit that yeah, they just murdered a fucktonne of people. Still, generals and politicians allegedly lost sleep over it. It was part of their job description.

In the 21st century we seem to regard our high-casualty strikes as proper and justified, to the point that the conservative end of the people-on-the-street spectrum sleep well knowing that we kill fifty civvies for every person-of-interest just like they sleep well knowing we torture.

I suspect it has to do with the civvies being Islamic towel-heads rather than human beings. Our propaganda machines these days are really good and play on our basest fears so that it’s okay to wipe out entire cultures or races or religions on the premise that we can not fear the occasional violent act of dissent.

I think the new technologies are much like the Davy Lamp which saved miners from asphyxiation and explosive gas pockets, but allowed them to mine deeper and get killed by other hazards. The stealth technology of the B2 and the remote-pilot drone technology keeps our pilots safer, which allows us to reach further into enemy territory and strike at civilian populations rather than military emplacements. It’s not that the technology is bad, but it allows for crueler strategies, which our administrators — and the CIA — eagerly prefer.

mister anderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: The difference is not in the technology...

This is an extremely naive reading of history.

Let us examine the last true modern total war: world war 2. At the time, technology increases allowed for unprecedented range and payload of heavy bombers. Advancements in computer technology allowed unprecedented accuracy in bomb placement.

At the beginning of the war, the American doctrine was precision, daylight bombing raids. These raids would be targeted against purely military targets (such as factories, military installations, etc). This ended up being a unrealistic goal, with bombs often falling on civilian populations adjacent to the military targets.

The British, on the other hand, had a doctrine of attacking cities with saturation bombing at night. This was done for purely pragmatic reasons, as their radar bombsight technology was only really accurate enough to hit a city, and the though was that night bombing raids would be more survivable.

After several years of fighting, conducting raid after raid, the Americans lost their early idealism. They took on more of a total-war viewpoint, where killing civilians was a military goal (killing the civilians would lower the military output of a nation). This ultimately lead to the firebombing of Dresden, a combined operation of both British and American bomber commands that kept up raids for nearly two days. This completely flattened the city. Later conventional and atomic raids destroyed nearly every city in Japan, killing millions of civilians.

Contrast this with modern air strikes. We are using Hellfire missiles, with comparatively small warheads (300lb enhanced-blast frag, enough to flatten a building, but not much else), instead of massed, city crushing raids. Focused strikes aimed at high value targets, instead of directly targeting the civilian population.

The perspective of the American military is closer to the idealistic, no civilian casualty perspective that characterized the pre-WWII and early WWII eras. To that end, the military R&D complex has been developing new, extreme low collateral damage weapons, such as LOCO ( The goal being to kill the target while not harming civilians. We’re getting there, slowly.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Naive readings of history

Well, firstly I don’t think we can compare strikes in the modern day to WWII legitimately. In WWII the US had legitimate concerns about its ability to defend itself in both theaters.

Justifications for limitless hostilities are less sound in those campaigns based on containment, on the War on Drugs and the War on Terror. Were we to approach these theaters with the same degree of force that we applied in WWII, it would quickly raise ethical questions as to whether our presence is causing more of a problem than it’s resolving. Since our war is not technically with the people of Afghanistan but a specific (minority) faction, we can’t even justify civilian deaths as a matter of pragmatism.

The massacre of Dresden is regarded to this day as a catastrophe, and one that is regrettable with uncertain value towards the allied victory. Imagine, then, if it were in industrial city in France that we bombed, and the civilians in question were not Germans, but occupied French. That is closer to the nature of the Afghani civilians we are massacring in our War on Terror. And imagine then that we’re doing it just for revenge regarding 9/11…against people who had nothing to do with the attack except existing near the same corner of the earth.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Naive readings of history

The massacre of Dresden is regarded to this day as a catastrophe, and one that is regrettable with uncertain value towards the allied victory. Imagine, then, if it were in industrial city in France that we bombed, and the civilians in question were not Germans, but occupied French.

Actaully we did bomb occupied French civilians – because we bombed factories in France where they worked – although it is true that efforts were sometimes made to minimise such casualties. (As in the Case where Leonard Cheshire dived low over a factory twice – at huge personal risk – to warn the workers to get out).

The reality is that in war there will always be civilian casualties – our ability to minimise them depends on a combination of technology, good military tactics and personal heroism.

The rather more gung ho attitude of the British during WW2 is explained by the fact that Britian was fighting for its life in a way that the USA really wasn’t – and had suffered considerable civilian casualties itself during the blitz.

The pressure on morality due to expediency is well explained by Freeman Dyson:
“I began to look backward and to ask myself how it happened that I let myself become involved in this crazy game of murder. Since the beginning of the war I had been retreating step by step from one moral position to another, until at the end I had no moral position at all. At the beginning of the war I believed fiercely in the brotherhood of man, called myself a follower of Gandhi, and was morally opposed to all violence. After a year of war I retreated and said, Unfortunately non-violent resistance against Hitler is impracticable, but I am still morally opposed to bombing. A few years later I said, Unfortunately it seems that bombing is necessary in order to win the war, and so I am willing to go to work for Bomber Command, but I am still morally opposed to bombing cities indiscriminately. After I arrived at Bomber Command I said, Unfortunately it turns out that we are after all bombing cities indiscriminately, but this is morally justified as it is helping to win the war. A year later I said, Unfortunately it seems that our bombing is not really helping to win the war, but at least I am morally justified in working to save the lives of the bomber crews. In the last spring of the war I could no longer find any excuses. … I had surrendered one moral principle after another, and in the end it was all for nothing. “

The problem at present is that we don’t understand the war that we are in, don’t understand who our friends really are and don’t know waht kind of fight we should involve ourselves in. Consequently everything we do seems to hurt our friends more than our enemies and leave the situation worse than it was.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Surrendering moral principles in wartime

On this we’re on the same page.

It’s a cause for outrage for me to watch our representatives show a conspicuous amount of delight at the thought attacking Iran. It’s certainly a naivete of the US that we’ve not experienced modern war on our own soil. And the Civil War was so long ago as for its horror is long forgotten. I think because of this, it’s easy for the US to go to war unsympathetic of the peoples affected, and it’s a factor of our identity crisis after 9/11 what was essentially a Doolittle raid.

The UK and west European nations leave some of the devastation on WWI and II untouched as memorials that war is the sort of thing we don’t want to inflict even on enemy peoples, if it can be avoided.

A friend of my father’s once shared a conspiracy theory that WWI was started by bored nobility looking for something to do and subverting diplomatic efforts. It runs parallel with Vonnegut’s observation that our troops in the mid east are being treated like toys a rich kid got for Christmas

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Naive readings of history

“The rather more gung ho attitude of the British during WW2 is explained by the fact that Britian was fighting for its life in a way that the USA really wasn’t”

Indeed. The last time that the US faced an existential threat was the Civil War. That’s why it drives me nuts when I hear people say that 9/11 or that the wars that came after it are “existential threats”. They’re far, far from it — but nobody alive in the US remembers what a real existential threat looks like.

Anonymous Coward says:

404 Page Not Found! Gone down the memory hole!

ONLY reference to this “” left now is at:

Just try to find it even in Google’s cache! My google-fu failed; try yours. Useful keywords that should snag it (especially “proprietary”) are in above comment.

So I’ve hooted a Techdirt page off the net! Like the aged “Technorati Top 100” claim, all I have to do is LINK to Masnick’s old blurbs, and he’s so embarrassed that removes it!

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: 404 Page Not Found! Gone down the memory hole!

It’s cute how you think you have any effect on anyone here other than mild annoyance at your childish antics.

Also, you might want to go see a psychiatrist for your problems, as it’s pretty clear that you are suffering from an almost debilitating form of obsession regarding Mike and TD. Really, referring to an article a month old, where you dug up a page years old, and that hasn’t been updated in a long while, only to use it to try and attack Mike, as though it means anything other than it’s old and hasn’t been updated in a while? You’ve got an obsession, and you need to see someone about it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 404 Page Not Found! Gone down the memory hole!

Maybe I’m missing something but I tried using the wayback machine to see that site and I don’t see anything particularly embarrassing.*/

The only embarrassing thing I see is how embarrassing commenters like you make yourself look.

Emelio Lizardo says:

“When I’m with a girl, I’ll wish I was watching pornography, because I’ll never get rejected.”

Your porn collection, your video games, your refrigerator, will never reject you and provide unlimited on demand non judgmental happiness.

Feminism (gender Marxism)has succeeded and men have retreated from life.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“men have retreated from life”

What an odd thing to say. I see no, as in zero, indication that this is a true statement. And even if it is true, it seems like quite an enormous leap to blame it on feminism. Also, I didn’t realize that movements pushing for being treated as a full-fledged human beings was a particularly Marxist idea. Particularly since the notion is the very first thing espoused in the US Declaration of Independence. Is that a Marxist document as well?

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