from the backs-and-forths dept
After a dangerous ruling that allowed Microsoft to seize a bunch of domain names without even notifying the owners, there were plenty of problems to be discussed. But, ultimately, most of it boils down to the simple absurdity of such seizures being possible in the first place, as Adrian Lopez pointed out in this week's first-place comment on the insightful side:
Yet another example of why in rem seizures need to be done away with altogether. Property has owners. Want to seize the property? Argue against the owner in front of a judge. It's called due process.
Our next comment took both the second place spot for insightful and the first place spot for funny. After the IRS denied non-profit status to an open source organization, one anonymous commenter pointed out the ridiculous imbalance between this and another recent bit of news:
It has to benefit the poor ... like Massachusetts SWAT who apparently had no problem getting 501(c)(3) status
For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got two excellent responses to common arguments that show up in the comments (and elsewhere). The first is related to Aereo: as we've pointed out many times, saying Aereo is abusing a loophole in the law is a gross mischaracterization of the situation, and I've never seen that as cleanly demonstrated as in this anonymous analogy:
The difference is between following the law, and trying to carefully position yourself to get through a loophole in the law, by doing all sorts of obvious contortions that would not normally occur to do it.
Sorry. That logic doesn't hold much water.
To get through the "loophole" in jaywalking laws I'm "doing all sorts of obvious contortions" by "carefully positioning myself" at the crosswalk, which "would not normally occur" because it's a half a block away.
You wording things differently doesn't magically change the legality of things.
Next, as we've been pointing people towards Larry Lessig's Mayday PAC, some have argued that it's inherently dumb to try to use money to get money out of politics. I think there's plenty of room for informed debate here, but many people seem to reject the idea out of hand — and JP Jones makes a solid case for why this isn't fair by better illuminating the idea:
Politics costs money. Everything costs money in one way or another. To paraphrase one of my college professors: "politics is the method by which human beings decide who gets what." Since we use money as the primary determination for our economy (also "who gets what") that means politics is all about money, or at least economic value.
You can't remove money from politics. The money, however, isn't the problem. The problem is the strings attached to the money, the intent behind those who "donate" to the political process. This has a class-based definition: if the rich or affluent do it, it's called "lobbying" and if the poor or middle class do it it's called "bribery." The result is the same; the implication is that the individual receiving the money will behave in a manner that benefits the one giving the money, and if they do not, the money will not be offered. Since money is required to have a successful campaign (and thus get elected) this becomes a major factor in how politians act.
The idea behind a crowd funded PAC is that by making the money generic and outside of the control of any political goal or intent you remove the "or else" from the equation. This means politicians are compelled to act in accordance with what their constituents want because now their votes are the primary determining factor in how they represent us, not the money from campaign contributions (which currently have the largest impact on elections). In other words, our representatives are motivated to represent the voters rather than the lobby.
Over on the funny side, we've already had our first place comment above, so it's on to second place, where we've got another crossover comment referencing other recent news. After the new NSA boss commented that he'd observed terrorist organizations "making changes" in response to the Snowden revelations, Michael took a guess at the new security advice they might be seeking:
Just the other day they were on the phone with someone willing to help them secure their systems for $1m per month...
For editor's choice on the funny side, we've got two short scripted scenes that readers dreamed up. First, Rekrul imagined a likely phone call now that SoundCloud has given Universal Music the ability to take down content:
Tech Support: SoundCloud tech support, how may I help you?
UMG: You know that tool you gave us to take down any content that we deem to be infringing?
Tech Support: Yes.
UMG: Well, I can't find the "Delete All" button...
Finally, Baron von Robber anticipated a coming exchange between the ACLU and the DOJ, which has been ordered to deliver unredacted memos:
ACLU: "You were told to give an unredacted memo"
DOJ: "It's no redacted"
ACLU: "What's all that black stuff blocked out?"
DOJ: "Um...new font called "ACLU type"
ACLU: "Look, I know redacted when I see and I'm looking at it right now"
DOJ: "It's pineing for the feuds."
(I think that was supposed to be "fjords", unless there's an additional joke I'm not getting.)
That's all for this week, folks!