Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the the-turtle-moves dept

This week, after we expressed some serious concerns about Senator Blumenthal’s comments on SESTA, Uriel-238 won most insightful comment of the week by summarizing and questioning the train of thought:

Legislator: This is my bill to stop evil people.

Analyst: This doesn’t stop evil people at all. It simply wrecks a chunk of the economy.

Legislator: Evil people use that chunk.

Analyst: Way, way more good people use that chunk. And they’ll suffer badly without that chunk. Also it won’t stop the evil people from finding another chunk.

Legislator: Well, this is my bill to stop evil people. Until you write a better bill to stop evil people, I’m going to put my support behind this one.

Where do we get the idea that passing a bad law is better than passing no law? These are the motions of a drowning man climbing on and dunking nearby swimmers in desperation.

Meanwhile, over in the UK, Theresa May was making her own insane comments about how internet companies need to remove extremist content within two hours. Anonymous Anonymous Coward won second place for insightful with a short list of just some of the problems with this idea:

I would suggest putting May in the position of finding and analyzing things that might be ‘extremist’, but it is likely that ANYTHING that did not start out with praise for May and/or her ideals would be deleted without further examination.

Then there is the concept of what constitutes ‘extremism’. Extreme could be left or right or up or down or any other label so long as one takes the time to go further than others. What definition will she put into law?

Further, is she employing the concept that what is law in Briton should be law everywhere?

And finally time. Some laws have the ability to be…well let’s say intensive (aka very very long) and might take more than two hours to even read, let alone analyze. Is May purporting that all Internet companies hire super fast readers, or people that can watch video at 4 or more times regular speed, and still comprehend it…comprehensively… and have the full faith and credit to NOT take down something that may not be ‘extreme’? Or is she going to rely on black box algorithms?

Maybe May should be asked about how she will clean up the messes she is making.

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we start out with one more response to May’s impossible demand. Aerinai offered a proposal in response:

I am completely fine with them passing this law… just they also need to pass a few other laws as well.

Law Number 1: This law will find mismanagement of public funds (i.e. graft, kickbacks, improper expenditures, etc.) within the same requisite amount of time within the government. The government heads will then be held responsible any time any of these activities occur and are not caught within 2 hours.

Law Number 2: I also want NHS to be able to identify medical fraud within 2 hours, otherwise the employees will be subject to criminal penalties…

Law Number 3: I want lawmakers to have all of their facts checked and a retraction for their false statements to be done within 2 hours and failure to issue such retraction will result in criminal and civil penalties.

I mean… if asking Google to censor ‘extremist’ content in 2 hours is fine, these should be a piece of cake as well!

Next, we have a response from Mike Godwin to the strained accusation that Google is behind his opposition to SESTA:

Mr. Anonymous omits facts that undercut whatever point he thinks he’s making about me.

(1) I worked for EFF from 1990 to 1999. Google didn’t exist then.

(2) I worked for CDT from 1999 to 2003. Google didn’t fund CDT then.

(3) I worked for Public Knowledge from 2003-2005. Google didn’t fund Public Knowledge.

(4) I worked for Yale University from 2005-2007. Google didn’t fund my position at Yale.

(5) I worked or Wikimedia Foundation from 2007-2012. Funded by individual donations, for the most part.

(6) I worked for Internews from 2013 to 2014. Funded by the U.S. government, for the most part.

My work for R Street certainly has benefited from Google funding, as well as funding by many other sources, but my work on Section 230, now more than two decades old, has no roots in Google funding (and certainly not in Backpage funding).

My views about Section 230 are a function of my work on internet-freedom issues dating back now more than a quarter century. Maybe they’re incorrect views, but nobody whose sole argument is that I was paid to have those views is likely to be persuasive on that point.


Over on the funny side, our first place comment comes from TechDescartes in response to HP bringing back ink cartridge DRM:

HP Multifunction


In second place, we have a similarly short quip from Roger Strong in response to Verizon cutting off its “unlimited” wireless customers:

I have unlimited respect for Verizon.

Using their definition of “unlimited.”

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we’ve got a pair of comments in response to the EFF’s resignation from the W3C over the approval of the EME DRM standard. TechDescartes offered up a thought on the lack of detailed information about the vote:


So much for transparency.

Origin from Latin transparere, from trans- ?um? + parere ?no?

In response to that — and, I suspect, inspired by Cory Doctorow’s invocation of Terry Pratchett’s Lord Vetinari (I am a huge Discworld fan) in a piece at Wired — an anonymous commenter provided another relevant passage regarding the lovable tyrant:

“And these are your reasons, my lord?”

“Do you think I have others?” said Lord Vetinari. “My motives, as ever, are entirely transparent.”

Hughnon reflected that ‘entirely transparent’ meant either that you could see right through them, or that you couldn’t see them at all.

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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Anonymous Coward says:

Before this extreme comment gets censored.. here it is. At eighteen I was wholly aware upon entering military service that the obvious thing to me was the problem of chain of command. I could easily ser that if the highest position was overthroown or usurped, the commands would still be followed irregardless of who was at the top giving them. Now it seems to me that the US government actually stands for USurped government and I’d liked to believe otherwise.. show me I’m wrong.

K`Tetch (profile) says:

Hey Leigh, I’m actually [working on a discworld book]( about the underlying meaning of and otherworld applications of passages like that.

I ended up using Mr Bent’s ‘kissing numbers’ speech as an example, but I very nearly used the transparent one. Those two, and their applications in situations like this, were my motivation for the book.

Richard (profile) says:

Where do we get the idea that passing a bad law is better than passing no law?

I’ve noticed many times in the past that all governments are biased towards action.

So, in the middle east, "political freedom" is so sacrosanct (even when the evidence is that it quickly degeneerates into tyrannical chaos) that it is worth sacrificing the lives of hundreds of western soldiers and thousands of middle eastern civilians in pursuit of it.

In contrast to that a relatively small amount of loss of life in terrorist attacks in the west is worth sacrificing most of our political freedom for.

The only explanation for this self contradictory attitude is the bias towards action in all circumstances.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Where do we get the idea that passing a bad law is better than passing no law?

It’s because action gives you a platform for re-election. While it would probably be better for our government to simply take a hiatus for a year and not propose a new law, it is really difficult to get re-elected on the “I did nothing – and it was good for you” platform.

Richard (profile) says:

Then there is the concept of what constitutes 'extremism'

Not to mention the difficulty of separating an "extremist" post of a particular flavour from one opposing that brand of extremism. They almost certainly use the same words and phrases – but in a different order!

The outcome of such a policy will be that the issues involved are removed from the public arena completely – resulting in total ignorance. (Actually exactly the same kind of ignorance tha Theresa May herself displayed when she spoke in parliament following the Westminster Bridge attack.)

Maybe this Imam could enlighten her:

but maybe he would be flagged as an extremist.

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