by Leigh Beadon

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the safety-razor dept

This week, like so many weeks, had plenty of stupidity and ridiculous statements flying around. When Rep. Peter King claimed that referring to the NSA as spying is "slander", he backed it up with the insistence that "the current threat to the Homeland is just as high as it was before 9/11." An anonymous commenter won most insightful comment of the week by latching on to the admission implicit in that statement:

So ... Is he admitting that the loss to our civil liberties and the billions of dollars we've spent on homeland security has accomplished nothing? Thank you. Mr King.

Meanwhile, in reporting on the ongoing Lavabit situation, we noted that "it sounds like the feds were asking for a full on backdoor on the system." Qw won second most insightful comment by issuing a small correction:

No. Nope. It doesn't sound like they were "asking".

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we'll start with John Fenderson responding to Michael Bloomberg's complaint that the court ignored crime reduction statistics when declaring the stop-and-frisk program unconstitutional:

And the judge was incredibly right to ignore it. Like with the defense of NSA spying ("but the program has stopped terrorist attacks!") -- that the technique may be effective is completely, totally, 100% irrelevant. What's relevant is if the actions are Constitutional.

This is ethics 101: the ends (usually) don't justify the means. I understand why power-hungry people like to ignore this, but we should remind everyone else of it. These sorts of defenses deserve nothing less than ridicule.

Of course, the NSA situation that John mentioned also provides a shining example of the opposite, with James Clapper setting up an "independent review" of the NSA's practices. Sorrykb couldn't help but notice that the priorities of the review are as muddled as you'd expect:

Something's missing
The Review Group will assess whether, in light of advancements in communications technologies, the United States employs its technical collection capabilities in a manner that optimally protects our national security and advances our foreign policy while appropriately accounting for other policy considerations, such as the risk of unauthorized disclosure and our need to maintain the public trust.
I keep re-reading that last part, looking for the word "privacy". Or "constitutional".

Instead, all I see is "Trust us" and "DESTROY ALL WHISTLEBLOWERS."

Over on the funny side, first place goes to Lord Binky replying to one of our most-recognizable detractors with an excellent response to the claim that our community voting system for hiding comments is "censorship":

In your case it isn't censorship, it's quarantine.

That comment came in on our post about Richard Bennett's silly claims that bad reviews on Susan Crawford's book were an elaborate double-fakout rather than simple astroturfing. That's also the source of the second place comment, since it led to lots of great discussion, both editor's choices on the funny side too. Our second funniest comment of the week comes from an anonymous commenter with a rogue third theory:

Both theories are wrong.

The reality is that the reviews are actually part of a *triple* reverse sabotage. They were written by telco astroturfers pretending to be Free Press fake-astroturfers pretending to be telco astroturfers.

Back when we were brainstorming headlines for that post, I had originally tried to work "Occam's Razor" in there somehow, since those two words really sum up the idiocy of the double-fakeout argument. The readers made sure it got its due, though, with multiple good comments on the subject. My favorite came from testscore, because I love a good mashup, even (perhaps especially) one mixing Occam's Razor and chaos theory:

Occam's Razor...
suggests that the reviews are actually the direct result of a butterfly flapping its wings in China.

But, as Mike noted on that post, Bennett has dismissed Occam's Razor as a dumb idea from the internet (rather than, you know, the foundation of all rational inquiry), but luckily Josh in CharlotteNC provided another way of looking at it, based on another famous principle:

I'm going to go with Hanlon's Razor now. "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

Bennett is assuming malice against his 1-star review. You're assuming stupidity on the part of telco-astroturfing efforts. Therefore, I'm going with stupidity on the part of the telcos, who have been proven to engage in similar stupidity before.

(Of course, we could also all just cite Poe's Law and assume Bennett was joking, or Sturgeon's Law with his argument firmly in the 90% category.)

That's all for this week, folks!

Reader Comments

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  • identicon
    Anonymous, 18 Aug 2013 @ 12:39pm

    As far as razors go, I buy 'em 5 for $1.00 at Dollar General.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    out_of_the_blue, 18 Aug 2013 @ 4:25pm

    FUNNIEST was out_of_the_blue smacking down two trolls with Mike's own words! peting-open-office.shtml#c150

    They probably thought I'd ignore their silly contradictions. I only have to support charging Mike as "unconcerned" with Microsoft's monopoly, and what I linked to precisely fits that:
    We recently mentioned the latest round of Microsoft's antitrust fight, dating back to some of its actions around Windows 95. To be clear, I think the action against Microsoft is pretty silly. It's pretty clear that the market is quite capable of dealing with any perceived Microsoft "monopoly" and routing around it.

    BUT even when Mike makes an effort to be "clear", and uses "perceived" plus ironic quotes, YOU KIDS AREN'T GOING TO CONCEDE TO ME that his words mean the obvious!

    But how you crow over one-liners! Just as in my tagline: Mutual Admiration Society posts every Sunday! Awards for Most Vulgar ad hom! Any fool can win!

    And that's why I like posting here on Techdirt! Don't have to bother with nuances, let alone debating: least opposition to Mike and every 14-year-old is compelled to just gainsay.

    Not only does "Emperor" Mike have no clothes, he's just a pretend emperor!

    Say, that reminds me: Mike sez on "About Us" that he has "a consistent Technorati Technology Top 100 rating." -- But unless that means something I don't see, Techdirt has fallen since its glory days (that I missed):
    Which when I checked just now says:
    Technorati Authority: 137
    Rank: 6329

    I'm SURE Meticulous Mike will want to update his page as he apparently hasn't done for a decade.

    And now you fanboys have my comment to flame, though you're stumped as usual for anything of substance. Have at it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Killercool (profile), 18 Aug 2013 @ 6:01pm

      Re: FUNNIEST was out_of_the_blue smacking down two trolls with Mike's own words!

      You bring up an argument that was adequately rebuffed in the very thread you linked to, and call any mocking you receive "flaming?"

      You get "flamed" because of petty stunts like THIS, where you revive an argument you lost as if it was never addressed.

      As for the (now) inaccurate Technorati rating, congratulations. You have, for once in your life, correctly found a FACT. I bow to your expertise.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      apauld (profile), 18 Aug 2013 @ 8:05pm

      Re: FUNNIEST was out_of_the_blue smacking down two trolls with Mike's own words!

      You are now showing signs of serious delusional behavior. If you weren't such a raging bitch it would be sad.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2013 @ 12:10am

      Re: FUNNIEST was out_of_the_blue smacking down two trolls with Mike's own words!

      You're finally made me do it. You've finally made me pull out The Ultimate Insult.

      What you just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard.
      At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought.
      Everyone in this room (or on this site, rather) is now dumber for having listened to (read) it.
      I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2013 @ 7:40am

      Re: FUNNIEST was out_of_the_blue smacking down two trolls with Mike's own words!

      Confirmed: Out of the Blue is out of his mind,

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), 18 Aug 2013 @ 4:32pm

    Truth stranger than fiction

    I've just been re-watching "The Bourne Ultimatum". The similarities to what we have been observing with regard to the Snowden disclosures lately is just uncanny! If it weren't so scary, it would almost be funny! :rolleyes:

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2013 @ 3:20am

    uh huh

    Watch how fast this gets censored: dianne feinstein is a dual israeli citizen. I don't know if its this site doing it or if there's algos scouring the web and sock accounts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    cop, 19 Aug 2013 @ 9:48am


    how many washington type defenders are being blackmailed by nse?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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