Benjamin’s Techdirt Profile


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  • Jun 30th, 2011 @ 10:35am

    Prior art maybe?

    I'm not a Trademark lawyer, but if another party can show that the mark was used in "commerce" prior to a trademark being granted, isn't that grounds for action?

    ...You know, like when the Mongols Motorcycle Club used it prior to the US Government holding the trademark (an absurd situation if there ever was one).

    Similarly, is there no one in Mongolia who would contest this trademark?

  • May 31st, 2011 @ 1:58pm

    (untitled comment)

    Seriously? Well then Apple can go ahead and sue Home Depot too, 'cause I got my white-iPhone conversion kit there yesterday for $3.99. It came in a bottle. I just had to get one of the kids in the orange aprons to open up the cage for me, because there are very strict anti-graffiti laws in my county.

    Go ahead, Steve, tell me how my solution is legally different from a white backing.

  • Apr 27th, 2011 @ 11:16am

    Let's do some math.

    Well, Mr. Gannon, I was going to post a snarky comment indicating the number of incoming links that you have to, and suggesting that you couldn't possibly be responding to e-mails from everyone who linked to you.

    However, upon closer examination, it appears that you only have about 1500 links coming into that domain, and only about 110 of them are unique. The rest are likely blogs.

    So, it appears that not only do you have plenty of time to approve all those links, but your contend doesn't appear to be as in demand as you might want to believe.

    In contrast, Techdirt shows upwards of a half a million total incoming links, and well more than a thousand of those are unique (this is difficult to quantify above one thousand). What I think is rude is that you're chastising someone for offing you such exposure. Perhaps you should make a donation to Techdirt.

    In fact, the original Techdirt post discussing your work indicates 34 backlinks - roughly 30% of the existing exposure that you've been able to develop on your own. I'm very sorry that fair use prevents you from seeing a 30% increase in revenue from your online efforts.

  • Mar 29th, 2011 @ 5:17am

    Re: Inferences or Context

    PW, I think your response was very insightful, and I think it raises a number of good points.

    I have the feeling that it's going to take a good amount more of my thinking power than I can bring to bear at the moment, but I might have to disagree on the idea of opt-out being unethical on the basis of it's requiring action from the individual. I can't help but feel uncomfortable when we draw the line in a place where making an observation requires prior restraint.

    It may be because of my experience in social science research, but I believe that whenever observations about my behavior are observed, and may serve to make a direct impact upon my life, I would like to be aware of this, and informed as to the intent. Then, much as I can do when my phone asks me if I want to share my location with a software developer, I can choose to opt out. Much as with institutionalized research, it's informed consent that I'm seeking, but observations that do not have a direct impact on my immediate existence are not my biggest concern.

  • Mar 28th, 2011 @ 5:40am

    Well done.

    This is the difference.

    I questioned the story, and I got flamed for it - and that's the difference. Some people are willing to swallow the line wholesale, and without question. Those folks, and bloggers with lower standards never would have revisited this story. They would have buried it when they discovered the problem. Kudos to Mike for making sure the truth is fairly represented, regardless of the "cost."

    ...And in this case, at least by my measure, the "cost" is greater respect from yours truly - and I already had a great deal of it.

  • Mar 24th, 2011 @ 11:44am

    (untitled comment)

    Wow. So smart.

    Actually, no. I don't have that training. I do, however, have a great deal of experience with digital audio. Very much more than enough to know exactly what you're talking about as you try to wow me with jargon. Please review the technology yourself, do some research on speech recognition, and then re-read what I said. Then think about it.

    I stand by my comment that the processing power requirement is not insignificant, and when multiplied by several million times, it becomes problematic. If all of this were possible, we wouldn't hear whining from the DHS about how they've got hundreds of thousands of hours of recoded conversations, but no way to vet them for intelligence.

    Intercepting traffic? Yeah. On the internet. China can do that. Speech recognition requires a little more effort.

    If you read my post, you would also note that I also point out that it would be substantially less useful for China to cut off such conversations that it would be to listen in.

    If you want to suggest education, please have the smarts to demonstrate that you understand what you are talking about before dismissing it.

    This piece is just part of the new red scare. And you, Mr. or Ms. Coward, are easily wowed.

  • Mar 24th, 2011 @ 6:31am

    (untitled comment)

    People are right to be extremely skeptical of this story.

    Yes, the technology is readily available to detect specific keywords in speech. It can be done quickly, and very effectively. My phone can do it, and I know someone who helped bring that particular piece of software into being. That person now works for the NSA, presumably doing similar work - though he can't say.

    Nevertheless, doing this takes processing power, and not an insignificant amount. Multiply that my several million (or whatever the number of phone calls active in China at any given time) and you get a pretty hard nut to crack. I notice that the article from the Times talks a lot about internet censorship, but very little about the technology to engage in active, real-time censorship of phone calls.

    Besides, even if this were limited to watchlists, what would be the purpose of cutting off a phone call? Wouldn't it be in the state's interest to allow the call to continue, and gather intelligence? If it were foreigners being monitored, wouldn't the government want to know what they were discussing, instead of cutting off the call, and potentially alerting the target that they were being observed?

    No, I think it's far more likely that people are simply flying off the handle again. How hard is it to look like a competent journalist by "uncovering" some sort of government crackdown. I'm sure it'll get the NYT many links.

  • Mar 17th, 2011 @ 6:09am

    (untitled comment)

    >Is it the study of sociology that encourages this?

    No. Quantitative studies in sociology are nothing like this, and sociologists are quite capable of creating a study which is significantly more objective. This "survey" is junk science, and no professional sociologist would ever draw the conclusions about behavior from the indicated results. All one could reasonably do would be to draw conclusions about people's *impressions* of behavior. There is a big difference - obviously.

    Unfortunately, roughly 2% of the news media is able to make that differentiation, and as a result, we're constantly bombarded by horribly misleading and inflammatory information. Good for ratings. Bad for everyone.

    Kudos for calling BS on this, and for all of the right reasons.

  • Mar 15th, 2011 @ 1:29pm

    (untitled comment)

    It's easy to be wistful for a time when you were rich because you were one of ten artists actually getting airplay, and your record was one of the ten conveniently displayed in your local record store.

    About a year ago he did an interview on NPR's Fresh Air. A coworker was a big fan of his, and I referred her to the website so she could listen to the archived audio. There was a message there saying that the audio could not be archived due to "contractual obligations" or some such crap. I've never, ever seen that with any other interview.

    He's a fossil. Good riddance. If that's music, I hope Steve Jobs feels well enough to dance on its grave.

  • Mar 15th, 2011 @ 6:54am

    (untitled comment)

    I love that I can post a comment that is *critical of the TSA* and be called an "apologist." I make no apologies for the TSA, but it's inappropriate to make assumptions about dangerous doses of anything, when there are absolutely no numbers being discussed. We all receive measurable doses of radiation every day. We also consume toxins and harmful bacteria.

    The TSA needs to come clean with the numbers. I too, suspect that it won't, and more alarmingly, I suspect that the reason that it's not doing so is that it would have to admit some pretty serious mistakes, and no arm of our government readily does that.

    So yes, anonymously argue on the internet, but my point (had you bothered actually thinking about it) is that when we throw up our hands and panic about a number that is ten times another number, we are being hysterical until such time as we know both what the numbers are, and what they mean. Expressing concern over a safety issue is one thing. Acting as if we know that there is a cover-up of eminent danger is another. Show me that the TSA is knowingly hiding evidence of harmful radiation exposure, and I'll be the first one at the barricades.

    Tobacco companies, as with everyone else, knew for decades that their products were harming and killing. We don't know that about these machines, but hell, I'll opt for the pat down anyway, because I *don't* know - not because I *do.*

  • Mar 14th, 2011 @ 1:01pm


    I very proudly pulled the lever for President Obama, but in doing so, I assumed that I was casting my vote for someone who understood that telling the truth, and doing the moral thing might have consequences, but that those consequences would never be worse than doing the easy-but-unethical thing in secret.

    It seems that I may have gotten the wrong impression. I only wish there were a candidate who wouldn't send us down a vortex of mendacity that could provide a viable alternative. I've never heard a Republican candidate for anything who wouldn't have subjected Manning to the same treatment.

  • Mar 14th, 2011 @ 12:53pm


    I share the concern over the scanners, and over the TSA's less-than-forthcoming tendencies, but I feel compelled to point out that without solid numbers, we really can't conclude that ten times the normal radiation emission from the machines comes anywhere close to harmful. As the current ongoing nulear power crisis in Japan illustrates, the emission of radioactive materials into the atmosphere at a rate many times that of normal can still be nowhere near a harmful dose - the US Navy has been reporting levels akin to a month of living on earth and being exposed to the sun every day.

    ...Of course, like in Japan, the issue could rapidly become much worse, and I hope to hell that it doesn't. I just want to be sure that we don't jump to conclusions on this. Yes, the TSA needs to be more transparent about these things, but if someone said they were giving me one daily dose of Vitimin d, and gave me ten, I'd still be in no danger. It's only toxic at much, much higher levels. Gotta have the numbers to know.

  • Feb 17th, 2011 @ 11:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I'll assume that was aimed at me, and I'll point out that "a few bad apples that steal" is hardly an indictment of anything. Everyone has a few bad apples who steal. This does not contribute to an argument against say, the public school system. If I were to argue against public schools, I wouldn't bother adding "...and some teachers steal" because it doesn't really strengthen my case. It only makes me look somewhat petty and bitter.

  • Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:49am


    While I recognize that the piece is presented without a specific statement that the TSA is inherently useless or should be abolished *because of these incidents,* I do recognize (and agree with) the theme on this blog of criticism of the TSA and it's "security theater." Typically, Techdirt will publish much more relevant reasons for this criticism, which involve violations of civil rights, misrepresentation of fact, and safety concerns. This post does not fall into those categories.

    When a journalist or blogger chooses to report on a story, he or she has already made a judgment call that the story is relevant. Because of the established theme of Techdirt, and because of its normally high standards when issues of the TSA's policies and procedures are discussed, I feel strongly that the inference is clear: a couple of underpaid TSA agents stealing from passengers is evidence sufficient quality and relevance to include with the more substantial arguments.

    I simply feel differently. I feel that we should hold ourselves to higher standards of debate. These stealing incidents are isolated, and unless someone is going to make a claim that they represent the consequences of TSA policy, they are not worth including in what is otherwise a very solid and intellectually honest debate.