Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the hat-trick dept

The rest of you commenters have got to start competing with That One Guy! He’s back this week with a triple win, taking the first place spot for insightful and both top spots for funny. His first place insightful win came in response to the overhype about 5G wireless:

Probably the best dose of reality to quench the enthusiasm for super fast connections can be summed up in two words:

Data caps.

It doesn’t matter if you have a blindingly fast connection speed if simply using it to any real extent quickly eats through your monthly data allowance, either dropping you right back down to a drastically slower speed or charging you out the nose to maintain your speed.

Advertising how insanely fast your service is(or will be), while having penalties in place for people who use it to even a notable fraction of it’s capabilities is like advertising an all you can eat buffet… and then charging by the plate past the first one.

In second place on the insightful side, after we pointed out the desperation of those attempting to tear down the recently-nominated Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden, Jessamyn West showed up with a library-insider’s perspective:

Sometimes it can be complicated to explain our anti-censorship and pro-privacy professional values in the library world to outsiders. These values sound so out of line with standard business practices that people feel that they must be hiding some sort of nefarious other agenda.

Internet filters don’t work. The ALA is a 60,000+ member organization which works very hard on a regular basis to ensure that people have access to the information they want and need in order to solve problems in their lives or just … because they want it. It’s no one’s business bus theirs.

Dr. Hayden is a staunch advocate for libraries and the people who libraries serve. We are lucky she’s been nominated and should hope she’s chosen to lead the Library of Congress into this century.

Thank you for this article.

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we remain on that post for one more comment. We listed Hayden’s qualifications and boggled at the fact that anyone could find reason to criticize her, but one anonymous commenter noted that the qualifications themselves provides plenty of reasons to those with certain motivations:

And she’s out! (they hope)

“she seemed immensely qualified for the position”

Strike 1.

“having successfully run and modernized the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore”

Strike 2.

“She also clearly recognized the importance of open access and access to culture.”

Oh, hell no!
Strike 3!

Next, we head to the story about AT&T’s ongoing attempts to buy state law and block municipal broadband. They raised concern about the government having an “unfair advantage”, and one anonymous commenter pointed out that this is a weird way of looking at it:

If it’s really the case that the government has an ‘unfair advantage’ perhaps that’s an indication that this is a service better served by government. Isn’t the point of allowing government to provide certain services exactly because they have an ‘unfair’ advantage and can better serve us than the private sector? If it’s the case that the government has an ‘unfair’ advantage this is something to be embraced. The point whole point shouldn’t be to ensure that businesses maximize profit it’s to increase aggregate output and consumer surplus.

I’m not saying that broadband is something better served by government. Just that the argument that government needs to ensure that government doesn’t have an ‘unfair’ advantage is no reason to hinder government developments. There is no such thing as an ‘unfair’ advantage, no advantage is ‘unfair’ and any advantages government does have is a reason to embrace municipal broadband.

Over on the funny side, we’ve got the remaining two comments from That One Guy‘s hat trick. After the San Bernardino DA expressed concerns that there might be a deadly “cyber pathogen” on the shooter’s iPhone, he won first place for funny with the realization of what a goldmine it could be:

Also possibly on the phone:

– The entire collection of the Library of Alexandria, digitized.

– The script for the tv show ‘Lost’, explaining everything in full detail.

– Full translation of the Voynich Manuscript.

– Winning numbers for the next 100 lotteries.

– A copy of an email from Quentin Tarantino explaining exactly what was in the briefcase in Pulp Fiction.

– The cure for all forms of cancer(but not the common cold).

– An absolutely superb, made-from-scratch BBQ sauce recipe.

– The last will and testament of Emperor Norton, revealing that he was a genuine emperor the entire time.

– A file containing approximately three dozen slightly offensive jokes, every single one of which ends with ‘… and that’s why you don’t ask.’

– Half a dozen funny cat gifs.

– Schematics for a machine capable of producing endless free energy, along with instructions in making a material that acts as a perfect conductor of electricity.

Meanwhile, his second place win came in the form of an explanation for Amazon’s contradictory decision to remove encryption from the Fire while supporting encryption publicly:

Strange form of support

Ah, but don’t you see, clearly this is a move designed to help Apple in their fight by making it so that the security minded customers stop using Amazon tablets and move over to the ones that Apple is selling.

By driving their customers into Apple’s waiting arms they’re making sure that Apple has the funding needed to continue to fight for encryption, it only seems like an incredibly stupid and contradictory move on their part.

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we’ll start out with another “reader nomination”. After Rep. David Jolly rather mangled his already-silly words in condemning Apple, AricTheRed felt it was a gaffe worthy of recognition:

I nominate Jolly for funniest comment of the week!

“Taxpayers should not be subsidizing a company that refuses to cooperate in a terror investigation that left 14 Americans dead on American soil,” David Jolly…

Definitely gets my vote for funniest. Saddest, but funniest.

And finally, because I can’t resist a good Trump gag once in a while, after someone described him as looking like “a fucked up carrot”, one anonymous commenter drew the line:

Fucked up carrots around the world are shouting their outrage at being compared to Trump.

#notallcarrots. That’s all for this week, folks.

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

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ECA (profile) says:


WHAT is government advantage??
10 Employees(boss’s) on top Each making wage Equal to the 100 people doing the work for the company..

Gov. employees, that get GREAT benefits, and a decent wage, and STILL under cut Corp wages and benefits??

WHO here is old enough to remember when State and fed, controlled UTILITIES, and you could afford them?? EVEN if you were Poor..

Anonymous Coward says:


…Who here is old enough to remember when the government provided fire and police services? Oh, wait…

I’m old enough to remember when one of my neighboring cities contracted with a private company for fire service. After 911 was instituted all the cities got together to form an automatic aide agreement and also agreed to set up a common dispatch center for the whole county. Guess what city was excluded from both: the ‘private company’ city. Turns out the private company refused to abide by the minimum standards agreed to by all the other cities so was deemed an outlier. The city council finally realized that being the only city in the county not on the automatic aide system wasn’t a good idea and voted to eject the private company and form their own fire service. The first day the city service went live both the automatic aide system and the common dispatch system welcomed the city into their folds.

Anonymous Coward says:


Early fire services, in New York City for example, were actually provided by private companies. It was not uncommon for different companies to race each other to the fire and then for drunken firefighters to fight with each other over the fire hydrant as the building burned. Other times they might not show up at all. Service was so bad that the government eventually too it over and put the “poor private companies” out of business.

Government advantage, indeed.

Bruce says:


The usual complaints they bring up are that government can get financing at lower interest rates because muni and utility bonds are federal tax free. They also complain about government “seizure” of property rights if a town or county wants to hang a competitor’s infrastructure on an incumbent’s utility poles.

Bergman (profile) says:


Of course, those incumbent’s utility poles are often making use of a government-imposed easement that would not be possible for a purely private enterprise to get.

If they want government out of their business completely, perhaps they could start paying rent for any of those poles or junction boxes currently utilizing an easement.

Anonymous Coward says:


Since you bring it up:

* The Federal Reserve (a private enterprise) issuing money and setting interest rates.

* Private banks successfully socializing loses while privatizing profits under the “too big to fail” banner.

* Industries using their wealth to unduly influence politics.

* Corporations “tax-optimizing”, leaving ordinary citizens to cover the missing tax income.

And the list goes on, so, hell yeah, let’s do talk about unfair advantage…

jimm (profile) says:

Data Caps

Techdirt has written many articles of the shenanigans of the phone and broadband industries.
But regardless of how overblown their claims of speed may be, for the sake of argument accept all their BS, when you do the math, it gets worse.

I was bored and thought I should calculate out my average speed for the month.
just to show what happens when you look at the numbers they claim to provide…

For my cell phone 5GB of high-speed and the rest of the month at 2G speeds
# of seconds in a month
time = 1 average month = 2629743.8 seconds
# claimed high speed rate
speed1 = 4Mbps
# high speed quota
data1 = 5GB
# time to reach cap if working at quoted speed
time1 = data1 / speed1 = 5e9 bytes / ( 4e6 bits/second) = 10000 s = 166 minutes = 2h 46 min

# time for remainder of month
time2 = time – time1 = 2629743.8 s – 10000 s = 2619743.8 s

# speed after quota
speed2 = 56K
# total data of remaining low speed access
data2 = speed2 * time2 = 56000 bits/s * 2619743.8 s = 1.8338207e+10 = 18GB

# total data received in a month
data3 = data1 + data2 = 5 GB + 18 GB = 23 GB
# average speed over the month
speed3 = data3 / time = 23 GB/2619743.8 s = 70235.876 bps average
or the full calculation
= (5e9 bytes + (56e3 bits/s) * (2629743.8s – 5e9 bytes * (8 bits/byte )/(4e6 bits/s)))/2629743.8s
= 70997.659 bps average… or 27% over 56k

If we instead use 128Kbps for the low speed as another reference
for 2G speeds suggests it is still small and now just 12% above the low speed rate

speed4 = (5e9 bytes + (128e3 bits/s) * (2629743.8s- (5e9 bytes * (8 bits/byte )/(4e6 bits/s))))/2629743.8s = 142723.87 bits / s = 143 Kbps

So much for phone data plan. Using fixed line plan from my cable company
they have claimed a speed of 50Mbps with the first 350G prepaid and $10/50GB afterwards

First I will calculate the cost if you could get what they claim is
available, so no throttling yields:

speed5 = 50Mbps
data5 = 350G bytes
time5 = data5 * 8 bits/byte / speed5 = 350e9 * 8 / 50e6 = 56000 s = ~933 minutes = ~16 hours
# total data for the month
data6 = speed5 * time = 50e6 bits/s * 1 month = 50e6 bits/s * 2629743.8 s / (8 bits/byte) = 16 TB
#charge per 50G above 350G
rate7 = $10/50G per month
data7 = data6 – data5 = 16TB – 350GB = ~16TB # note my prepaid amount is in the rounding error
charge7 = data7 * rate7 = ~16TB*$10/50e9 = $3,130/month
price/month = $100/month + $3,130/month in overage charges

Instead lets assume I use exactly my prepaid 350G what do I get for average speed?
speed8 = (350e9bytes/month + 0 )/2629743.8 seconds/month = 133KBps or 1Mbps average speed over the month

Now these techniques can be used with multiple tiers just as easily but I think that the results speak clearly.
My cell phone gets slightly better than old fashioned dial-up when I am on LTE on average due to throttling and my fixed line ISP either averages 1Mbps or costs ~$3,230/month depending on which way you prefer to calculate.

Where in this do you see affordable broadband.

All this is true only if you get their advertised data rates, normally I get a fraction of that and as these are the best case numbers, it gets worse 🙁

Just imagine if they were required to clearly advertise their speeds
143Kbps average (with 4M peak) for only $50/month from my cell phone carrier
1Mbps average with (50M peak) $100/month from my cable company
and for full high speed:
50Mbps only ~$3,230/month from my cable company.

Unsustainable peak speeds should be referenced in much smaller type than the average speed just to be fair to consumers 😉 and listing all services by their average speed might prompt some marketing changes, including latency also would be fair.

All of these would put in perspective the charges we pay vs the limitations we face,
All of these numbers are I believe accurate. But even if I was off by an entire
order of magnitude it would still look terrible for my service providers.

Note I am accepting that they actually mean what they say e.g. a 50GB cap is in bytes not bits for example, and that they are using calender months not 30 day rotating periods, otherwise it gets worse…

Are yours better?

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