Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the 'twas-written dept

Our first place winner on the insightful side this week is That One Guy with a response to our post about the Houston police officer who is facing felony murder charges over a botched raid:

'What do you mean it didn't work this time?!'

Gerald Goines, the ex-Houston police officer who led the controversial no-knock raid on Harding Street, has been charged with two counts of felony murder, as KHOU 11 Investigates reporter Jeremy Rogalski first reported.

His attorney, Nicole DeBorde, said Goines was surprised by the charges.

Given how often a badge acts as a 'get out of personal responsibility'-free card for actions up to and including murder I bet they were surprised that they were actually facing potential consequences for their actions. Now, if the jury/judge will follow through and rightly nail them to the wall for killing two people that'll make things all the better.

However, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo believes it's not a department wide problem.

"We've been looking at a lot of cases and we have yet to see it again, any evidence of any systemic issues," Acevedo said.

The only way I could see that possibly being true is if they are looking at literal cases, since last I checked most containers are lacking in the intelligence to commit crimes.

You do not get two cops falsifying reports based upon bogus reports by fictitious informants and supported by drugs that were pulled from a cop's car unless things are really rotten and they are very sure that they'll get away with it. If they were willing to do something that brazen it is almost literally impossible to believe that the rest of the department is squeaky clean, especially given what outside investigators have found and the fact that the department has had to be threatened with legal action to release information relating to the killer and his partner.

Given all that as the article notes if he's not finding anything he's not actually looking.

In second place, we've got Anonymous Anonymous Coward with some thoughts on the nature of property:

Yet another analogy...

I see property, and by that I mean real property (not limited to real estate) as having form, substance, and possibly function. Real property can be damaged by natural events such as hurricanes, fire, flood, hail, tornadoes, lightning, etc... Your copy of a book, sheet music, recording would be real property, the concepts expressed in those are not.

On the other hand, imaginary property cannot be damaged by natural events, like the song 'borrowed (I thought 'stolen' as a bit strong) by Wilma above', there was no actual loss to Betty, with the possible exception of attribution. The song itself is a bit ethereal, as it floats through the air, or even if it is written down or recorded. That is until we get to the monetization of imaginary property, which has since lead us to control, which then lead us to excessive control, and the mischaracterization of imaginary property as real property.

It is the monetization that brings us to the over protection, and lengthening protections, and rabid control, and the spread of such protections worldwide for the benefit of corporations rather than creators of imaginary property. The concept of having an idea and then living off it forever, or even getting rich off it is anathema to the original conception of imaginary property, at least in the United States...

"To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;"

Which only allows Congress to do something about imaginary property, but does not require it to do so.

I like the reforms mentioned in the article above, but would add some. Imaginary property cannot be transferred from the creator, but may be licensed, loaned, or contracted to another entity for some limited times for some consideration. By limited times we should look to the copyright clause that is in the Constitution and quoted above for guidance. If the purpose is truly to promote creativity, then any protection dies with the creator, and not just limitations created by law, which should also be short enough to encourage creators to continue creating.

For example the original 14 years for copyright (too long in my mind, seven would be better) with a purchased extension for another 14 (or7) years if it is considered economically feasible.

And for patents, the current ten year limit is OK, but new patents should not be issued for small tweaks to existing patents creating the concept of 'evergreening'. If a new idea is added to an existing patent, and that idea is worth it, it should be able to stand on its own without the underlying patent and be patentable by itself. Nor should patents be issued to anyone that is not in the process of bringing a product to market, and if, within a reasonable time, no product is produced the patent expires. The fact of not being able to transfer a patent should also help with the non-practicing entities (those without a product asserting imaginary patent rights).

These ideas should be taken into consideration along with those reforms mentioned in the article, and no, I am not claiming any imaginary rights to these ideas.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with bhull242 responding to the oft-repeated claim about gun violence that the solution lies in targeting the "few" mentally ill people:

“Few”? Those with diagnosed mental problems may be a minority, but they’re not that rare. Pretty much everyone in America has personally encountered someone with a mental illness.

Plus, there’s the question of where making 2A rights reasonable conflicts with 4A rights.

Also, please define “people who are known mentally unstable [sic]”. Not all mental illnesses are connected to violent behavior at all.

Then there’s the fact that statistics show that there is no significant correlation between mental illness and either gun violence in general or mass shootings specifically. One could argue that, by definition, anyone willing to kill a bunch of people must be mentally ill, but even setting aside that that would make every soldier who has been in active combat mentally ill, that doesn’t make them diagnosibly mentally ill, and it’s an entirely ad hoc definition which cannot be used to diagnose someone with a mental illness before a mass shooting, which makes it effectively worthless in this debate.

Finally, show me where Techdirt writers, specifically (not commenters), have been for “denying 2A rights for millions”. I’ve seen them questioning the scope and limitations of the 2A, recognizing the consequences that result, and being highly critical of many of the talking points used by pro-2A advocates—like blaming mental health issues, movies, and/or video games while completely ignoring any attempts at putting reasonable restrictions on gun ownership, like ammo limits, restrictions on the types of firearms permitted, better data on shooting incidents and who is restricted from possessing a firearm that are readily available to anyone who sells firearms or works for the government, restrictions on private sales, or banning certain accessories that make a firearm more deadly to larger numbers of people—whenever a mass shooting or talk of gun control pops up. I fail to see how any of that is denying 2A rights to anyone without reasonable due process.

It is possible to have a country with democracy, violent movies, violent video games, mentally ill people, and private gun ownership without mass shootings occurring multiple times a year. At least one developed nation does. We should look towards other developed nations that don’t have so many mass shootings but are considered democratic for ideas to fix our gun-violence problem. Not every idea is good, nor will every idea work here, but it’s worth looking into.

Next, we've got an anonymous comment about Australia's efforts to censor all footage of the Christchurch shooting:

Remember when we jeered at China

... over censoring anything related to Tianeman Square and the protests there some 30 years ago? How it was akin to "harmful sensation", "just letting people view this harms our society"?

It's taken 30 years, but Australia has finally stepped up to the challenge. Well done, Free World. Well done.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Toom1275 commenting on a post that sparked a lot of debate:

Where's the button to flag the article for trolling?

In second place, it's blademan9999 taking note of the rather broad language in a college's rules restricting students' freedom of expression:

"Any student parade, serenade, demonstration, rally, and/or other meeting or gathering for any purpose "

So if I'm understanding this right, you need 3 days notice to do things like go on a date, return a borrowed item or help someone else study, WTF!

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start with David neatly noting perhaps the most absurd result of Mississippi's rules about labeling vegan and vegetarian food:

So to make this clear:

With the previous law in action, you were only allowed to call something a "veggie burger" if it contained beef. Because of consumer confusion.

And finally, we've got a handy anonymous one-liner in response to the Federal Courts computer system losing months of job applications in a power outage:

nothing like having a good back up system and this is nothing like having a good back up system!

That's all for this week, folks!


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  • icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 15 Sep 2019 @ 1:54pm

    My comments

    It's a shame that my comments in this article didn't make the cut for insightful. Oh well! At least I made the first word in that article!

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

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 15 Sep 2019 @ 2:26pm

    Schooled yet again

    cpt kangarooski stepped up and once again set me straight. This time on the classic definition of property. It is worth looking at his correction.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2019 @ 2:55pm

    Someone tell the federal courts, computer sys admins about the concept of automatic backup,daily, hourly, etc
    No computer network should fail if theres, a sudden power loss ,
    there should be a backup power system if the data is that important ,that allows the
    any decent system will have 3 backups in 3 location, s on different servers , this was invented at least 20 years ago.
    Many old pc games would be lost if various people had not copied the code ,or the roms.
    pc companys go out of business , old media tapes and drives at some point stop
    working.even companys like sony and nintendo use emulators made by open source programmers to run old games from the 80,s .
    If someone makes a copy of a song or a piece of music its still avaidable to the singer or the composer .
    Only one person can read a physical book or a vhs tape ,
    or play a single player game thats on a cdrom , dvd disc at a time .
    If i steal your books ,or cd,s ,or dvd disc,s from your house , its a loss to you,
    If those items or old or out of print you may not be able to replace them
    or find a shop that sells them at a reasonable price.

    Sometimes piracey is good as it shows there,s a market for a product
    and encourages legal providers to launch new service,s .

    The popularity of napster showed the music industry that the public
    would be interested in a digital download service.
    They made deals with apple to sell music through itune s using the mp3 format
    and allow it to be played on ipod, pc and other device,s .Music or film or tv program,s are not really property in the sense they are media
    that can be copied without depriving the original owner of the original
    .

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

  • identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 15 Sep 2019 @ 4:57pm

    Moderation May Be Impossible ...

    ... but legislation seems inevitable.

    How else to deal with cases like this? Trusting the social media companies to regulate themselves is clearly a recipe for sadness. Those with a measure of online fame have some recourse in the form of pressure from their followers, but what about the rest of us?

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 15 Sep 2019 @ 9:43pm

      If you think it's was bad currently...

      If legislation is 'inevitable' then it's largely due to the clueless or maliciously indifferent politicians and members of the public who either don't know or don't care that the demands being made are simply not viable or realistic.

      When they're not flat out contradictory('Take down bad stuff as quick as possible but don't infringe on people's free speech arbitrarily doing it and what counts as 'bad' depends on who you ask') they ignore what can actually be done and what is already being done(one need only remember politicians ripping into Facebook for 'letting' the Christchurch shooting vid stay up, despite the insane efforts they went through to keep it down, because they weren't able to do the impossible and keep all copies from being posted), because admitting to those sorts of problems undercuts the whole 'tech companies are to blame because they're just too lazy to do it right' narrative.

      How else to deal with cases like this?

      The article itself spells out the answer to cases like that.

      'While it was Facebook's policy not to give family members access to the private messages of the deceased, there were exceptions. The platform would provide information such as messages, ads that were clicked, pokes, and security settings in response to a valid will or other legal consent document that expressed clear consent.

      If you want family to have access to your private messages and other account information either hand them the login details beforehand or write up a legal document making clear that they have permission to access it once the account holder is dead.

      That story may make it seem like Facebook is just being unnecessarily prohibitive it granting access, but it doesn't take much to image a scenario where a deceased person would not want that sort of access to be granted simply because they died and a family member wanted access for whatever reason.

      A person with highly religious parents/family who hid being gay because of what coming out could have resulted in for example would probably not want that sort of information to be available, if not for their sake or the family's sake, then for the sake of any still living partners who might catch flack(or worse) by being outed through their messages with the deceased.

      Trusting the social media companies to regulate themselves is clearly a recipe for sadness.

      As opposed to trusting the government to regulate them and decide what speech should and should not be allowed, with penalties in place should they get it 'wrong'?

      Social media companies may be doing a poor job now but compared to how bad things would almost certainly get with the government making those calls I suspect that the current state would be a downright bastion of free speech and open platforms in comparison.

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

      • identicon
        Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 15 Sep 2019 @ 10:42pm

        Re: If you want family to have access to your private messages

        Laws often say otherwise. Note the German court decision cited which said that digital assets should be treated just like physical assets as far as heirs of the deceased are concerned.

        Should Facebook be allowed to make up its own rules?

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 15 Sep 2019 @ 11:05pm

          Re: Re: If you want family to have access to your private messag

          'Laws' being that one court ruling?

          Should Facebook be allowed to make up its own rules?

          Unless you can come up with a good reason that Facebook shouldn't be allowed to set the terms for who has access to Facebook accounts and under what situations, yes. The example you provided, 'I didn't think I'd need clear permission to access private messages on an account that wasn't mine' does not cut it.

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

          • identicon
            Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 15 Sep 2019 @ 11:27pm

            Re: Unless you can come up with a good reason

            Rule of law, as set up by Governments answerable to the people, not by amoral, faceless megacorporations only answerable to their shareholders?

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2019 @ 1:17am

              Re: Re: Unless you can come up with a good reason

              You would rather have the decisions made by faceless bureaucrats only answerable to their department, or a boss like Ajit Pai?

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

              • identicon
                Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 16 Sep 2019 @ 2:33pm

                Re: decisions made by faceless bureaucrats

                Maybe that’s how it works in your country. In mine, we have an elected Parliament, and a select-committee process for new laws where any interested parties (that includes members of the public) can make submissions.

                It also helps that we have a proportional-representation system, which means that every vote counts.

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

            • identicon
              Rocky, 16 Sep 2019 @ 4:33am

              Re: Re: Unless you can come up with a good reason

              I don't get what you are after. Unless there is a law that specifically takes precedence for parts of a TOS any user accepting that TOS has to adhere to it.

              This goes for ANY service someone uses, no matter the size of the entity running it.

              Your argument seems to be that TOS's and contract law should be disregarded if a company is to big because "rule of law" - which doesn't make sense one bit.

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

            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 16 Sep 2019 @ 8:07am

              Re: Re: Unless you can come up with a good reason

              So, nothing really as to why companies shouldn't be able to set their own TOS' other than you really want the government to be able to make those choices? Because I gotta say, as reasons go that's a pretty lousy one.

              That 'responsible to the people' government has passed such garbage as FOSTA, multiple extensions of copyright law ensuring effective eternal copyright(because on a personal level anything past your lifetime, nevermind several decades after might as well last forever), politicians on both sides are calling for crippling 230 in order to force platforms to moderate how they think it should be done... they really sound like the sort of people you'd trust to determine what you should and should not be allowed to say and read online, keeping in mind that if the government is setting the rules you can't simply switch to a different platform if the current one isn't to you're liking, since they'd all be using the same rules?

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

            • icon
              Thad (profile), 16 Sep 2019 @ 8:22am

              Re: Re: Unless you can come up with a good reason

              Rule of law, as set up by Governments answerable to the people, not by amoral, faceless megacorporations only answerable to their shareholders?

              Which is a fancy way of not answering the question.

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

      • icon
        ECA (profile), 16 Sep 2019 @ 7:04pm

        Re: If you think it's was bad currently...

        deniability, excuses and finger pointing is all they want..

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2019 @ 11:55pm

    In second place, it's blademan9999 taking note etc:-

    "Any student parade, serenade, demonstration, rally, and/or other meeting or gathering for any purpose "

    "So if I'm understanding this right, you need 3 days notice to do things like go on a date, return a borrowed item or help someone else study, WTF!"

    Hmmmmmm. let alone taking legal action - I suggest that the students take note of this and engage in malicious compliance by a literal following of the rules . . . . and apply for every single little thing going. Thousands upon thousands of applications landing on their desks might make more of an immediate impact

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


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