Christopher's Techdirt Profile


About Christopher

Christopher's Comments comment rss

  • Dec 10, 2014 @ 02:36pm

    She's not totally wrong about one thing...

    I think, interestingly enough, that Valenti is right about Silicon Valley's priorities, and that's actually supported by the fact that ContentID doesn't work very well.

    Copyright infringement frightens these firms enough that they are willing to create seriously ineffective means of stopping it that frequently target innocent bystanders, because attempting to solve the problem is, in their calculus, worth the number of problems their shitty systems cause.

    And, by the same token, they could make another shitty semi-effective system to target online harassment, if they decided that the system's benefits were worth the drawbacks.

    In other words, the current calculus is:

    Policing Copyright Infringement Badly: Worth the inconvenience to users
    Policing Harassment Badly: Not worth the inconvenience to users.

    Complicating things is the fact that automated harassment detection would likely be even worse than ContentID, which probably changes the cost-benefit analysis.

    But at the end of the day, all of these platforms could create a lumbering, semi-effective censor that eliminates lots of non-harassing speech and lets lots of harassment through. They've already done a bad job solving one problem, so there's no reason they couldn't do a worse job solving a similar problem.

    The fact that she just takes it for granted that that would be a good idea is slightly alarming, though.

  • Dec 10, 2014 @ 01:59pm

    The incompetence is the infuriating cherry on this shit Sunday.

    The excuse for using torture is that the stakes in the war on terror are so high that we can't afford to give up any tools.

    If you actually believed this, you would be furious at the way the program was designed by two sociopaths who had almost no experience, and at a bunch of other incompetence in the execution of the program (For example, it wasn't clear to the people drafting the report how many detainees the CIA actually had. If basic information like that is missing, what kinds of key intelligence revelations did the people running this program miss?).

    If you're still defending the torture program after reading this, it's because you're either a dishonest partisan or a budding serial killer.

    Speaking of, I'm convinced that it's the stupider crazy people who become serial killers or who kidnap people and hold them hostage in basements. Because terrible things will happen to you if you get caught doing that.

    Crazies like Mitchell and Jessen were smart enough to play out their sick desires at the behest of the government. They had all the fun of torturing helpless people with none of the risk.

    This is yet another good argument for not allowing the government to torture people; we don't want our defense in the hands of pain-obsessed sickos.

  • Oct 15, 2014 @ 02:52pm

    Shame on the NAACP

    Shame, shame, shame.

    Full disclosure: I think the lifeworks article is trite and stupid, but if this is a trademark violation, then any use of a trademark in criticism is a violation.

    This is one of the clearest, most obvious examples of protected free speech I have ever seen, the judge is out to lunch, and the NAACP should be ashamed of itself.

  • Oct 11, 2014 @ 05:57pm

    None of what happened here makes any sense at all if the purpose of classification is to protect information that might damage national security if it were disclosed.

    It makes perfect sense and is entirely consistent if the purpose of classification is to allow the government to more easily control its own PR campaigns.

  • Oct 08, 2014 @ 04:26pm

    Re: Things which are reasonable

    Because if the police stop you, it is reasonable to assume that the money is drug money.


    If we grant you that, I think you also have to grant that it's also reasonable for the police to give you back your money when they find out that it definitely isn't drug money.

  • Oct 08, 2014 @ 04:29pm

    The lesson we learn from this is...

    Don't say anything, don't consent to anything, ask if you are free to go, and if you are, go.

    If the police teach people that there is no upside to cooperating with them, then people are going to stop cooperating with them, and you'd think that would make the Police's job harder.

    But, on the other hand, they have guns and courts on their side, so its not like they need us civilians to cooperate.

  • Oct 01, 2014 @ 04:37pm

    Hey, just a random question, but...

    The “near certainty” standard was intended to apply “only when we take direct action ‘outside areas of active hostilities,’ as we noted at the time,”

    So, uh, if an area isn't actively hostile towards us, why do we need to drop bombs on it?

  • Sep 23, 2014 @ 01:31pm



    What I found deeply fascinating about those articles about the school district giving the students iPads is that none of them actually identified the goal of the program.

    An iPad is a fairly niche tool; it's outright bad for writing papers, it seems ok for doing creative work like art projects and as an e-reader, and it's best at allowing students to browse the internet in search of research materials.

    So why wouldn't the district let students do that? If students are only supposed to use approved textbooks and sites, did the district just spend a half billion dollars to give students lighter text-books?

    I mean, isn't giving out iPads with these restrictions a bit like giving students bicycles, and then telling them they can only ride them on school property?

    What was the ipad handout supposed to accomplish, and was that program really the best use for that half-billion dollars? Last I checked, I couldn't find anything resembling an answer to these questions.

  • Sep 23, 2014 @ 01:23pm

    Re: It is not just high schools

    Believe it or not I'm with the professors on this one; first off, sitting behind the guy who is playing games on his laptop is distracting; if you can see his screen, you keep catching weird lights and movement out of the corner of your eye.

    Also, honestly, for the most part paper note-taking is nearly as efficient. Recording the lecture would probably be a more efficient use of technology in the classroom.

  • Sep 23, 2014 @ 01:10pm

    Re: Re: riigghtt

    First year of college I bought the text-book for my film history class. It was some service where the professor could have somebody who presumably owns the material take a bunch of disparate essays and put them together in one book.

    It cost $75, and when I got it I realized that it was literally just stuff photocopied out of books and spiral-bound together.

    I vowed never to buy a textbook again, and luckily I could just get what I needed from the school library.

  • Sep 05, 2014 @ 02:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You seem to be arguing against an imaginary Timothy Geigner, which is fine.

    No, I'm arguing with ChrisB; that's why I replied to his comment. If his premise is correct, yours is wrong, and vice versa.

    What I was trying to do is point out that my original post made the assumption that youtube is a major resource for speech not because I want more gatekeepers, or because I don't know how the internet works, but because that assumption is baked into your article.

    I was saying that if ChrisB wants to argue that the internet has eliminated the necessity of gatekeepers, he's also pretty much rejecting the premise of your article.

    And, on the other hand, my accepting the premise of your article doesn't mean that I want more private restrictions on speech.

  • Sep 05, 2014 @ 12:32pm

    Re: Re:

    I'm not asking for more gatekeepers; my point is that we have too many already.

    If the internet has made people "free to share information without asking gatekeepers permission" then you have to admit that the premise of this article is completely wrong.

    If the internet has eliminated gatekeepers, it doesn't matter in the slightest what Google does or doesn't allow on youtube, because we no longer need to ask gatekeepers like google for permission to publish; the offensive speech that Geigner supports will simply be published elsewhere on the internet.

  • Sep 05, 2014 @ 12:15pm

    The problem here is that while we have a first amendment, almost all of the actual venues we have for speech are privately owned.

    The ability to make choices about what content you allow or disallow is important for private publishers; like, for example, a blog might eliminate spam marketing in its comment section.

    So places like Youtube, Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook are in kind of an awkward position. On the one hand, they are all private businesses, but on the other they are our main venues for expressing ourselves in the modern world. The more they censor speech, the less the first amendment means in actual terms.

    If we have free speech, but nobody will publish it, than free speech is fairly useless; on the other hand, you can't just force every private actor to publish speech they disagree with.

  • May 05, 2014 @ 01:08am

    So, uh, isn't it relevant that the people concerned about these earlier technologies were generally correct?

    Cameras do allow creepers to secretly take compromising photos, a problem which is still felt today so keenly that it's leading to new laws that have been reported on this very site.

    Portable music players do cut you off from the world, in a way that can be rude and even dangerous, if you're so oblivious you don't hear a car coming or someone shouting a warning or something.

    My theory about why these technologies caught on despite the incredibly correct perception that they would be abused by creeps and/or smuggos is that most people take this attitude:

    "I am mature enough to use these technologies responsibly. It's the witless pinheads I'm surrounded by who can't be trusted."

    Right? You can be trusted to carry your cellphone everywhere since you need it in case there's an emergency. It's only other people who torture their neighbors with loud, pointless conversations that go "I said I'm coming home... No, HOME. H-O-M-E... Can you hear me? Yeah, I'm coming home... No, HOME! Can you hear me? Hello?"

    If Google Glass catches on, my thinking is that whatever rudeness it causes people to engage in will slowly be reclassified as the new normal, the same way it has been with cell phones and portable music players.

  • Apr 26, 2014 @ 02:32am

    Well, that's a peculiar reading. The fourth amendment reads,

    "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

    Now, to me, the word particular would, in fact, seem to prohibit bulk searches. My understanding is that that's why the NYPD can't get a warrant to search, say, "all of Manhattan."

    It seems to me that you might similarly expect that a warrant seeking "details of all the people you do business with" might be similarly un-particular enough to be a violation of the fourth amendment.

  • Apr 23, 2014 @ 08:52pm

    "Pardon me ma'am, but you're walking on the wrong side of the street, would you please cross to the other side when it's safe?"

    There, DONE. Problem solved.

    Seriously, why is that so hard for so many police?

  • Apr 20, 2014 @ 01:39pm

    In fact, I have yet to see a dead engineer whose estate still receives money for his/her work. You can replace engineer with any profession.

    You can even replace "engineer" with "artist" and it still holds true.

    Really, quite a lot of copyrighted work is owned by people or organizations that have nothing to do with the actual creative work. A friend of mine has been boycotting the Marvel superhero movies because the estate of Jack Kirby, creator of most of these characters, gets sweet fuck all in terms of royalties. On the DC side, the estates of Superman's creators have been waging a long legal battle to get some kind of rights and compensation from DC.

    As somebody who has toyed with being an artist, I don't feel very protected by copyright law. If I come up with the next big DC superhero, or the next hit Nickelodeon cartoon, or what have you, I will certainly not retain the copyright.

  • Apr 18, 2014 @ 07:13pm

    Apparently, the court opinion was redacted by Yossarian.

  • Mar 28, 2014 @ 06:33pm

    Re: Those tongue maps baffle me

    Yeah, as a child, I took a lolipop and tried putting it on different parts of my tongue. It tasted the same no matter where I put it.

    Most people have tongues, so you'd think they'd notice whether or not they could taste things.

  • Mar 11, 2014 @ 11:31pm

    Re: Maths Is Extremely Useful

    "Did you know they are a neat way to work with waveforms and AC signals in general?"

    I did not, which is really my complaint. The way I and many others were taught Math (We only get one in the US) was completely abstracted from any meaning.

    This is tangential to the question of how to teach math at a young age, but it would make me happy if there were some effort to show some applications of math in the classrooms of older students. If complex numbers are a good way to work with waveforms, why not teach them by working with waveforms?

    Actually, in general, school is very much "You will learn this subject because we say you will". In my public school days there really was never any attempt at applied Math at all; you learned the quadratic formula because they wouldn't graduate you unless you did, and that was the only reason.

More comments from Christopher >>