Mason Wheeler’s Techdirt Profile

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About Mason Wheeler




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  • Apr 17th, 2015 @ 9:27am

    Re: Re:

    Don't feed the trolls. Just click Report and move on.

  • Apr 16th, 2015 @ 8:11am

    Re: TSA - Totally Stupid Agency

    Well, at least you weren't flying United...

  • Apr 16th, 2015 @ 6:48am

    Re: Obstruction

    Of course they could. But will they? That's the pertinent question here...

  • Apr 15th, 2015 @ 12:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

    I have no idea, but it's to the point where I hold them in the same esteem as Comcast, Monsanto and Bank of America. Their service has been so abysmal for so many years that they've earned themselves a place on the list of Companies That Do Not Deserve To Continue To Exist.

  • Apr 15th, 2015 @ 11:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

    How the hell do you break an iron anvil in transit?!

    Since we're discussing cartoonish levels of incompetence, the answer is obvious: drop it on someone's head from a few hundred feet up.

  • Apr 15th, 2015 @ 10:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

    No, that's just annoying. With me, in multiple different places I've lived over the years, it's been consistently horrible. For example:

    - Not delivering the package, not calling or emailing me to say why, and then when I get in touch with them, claiming they couldn't find my house. After some discussion, it turns out somehow the address got munged and they were attempting to deliver to a nonsensical location. The lady on the phone explained that they had sent me a postcard (not an email: stupidity #1; after they already knew the address they had did not exist: stupidity #2) explaining how to take delivery of my package. I was not permitted to tell them my real address and get it delivered (stupidity #3) but instead had to head out to the UPS depot, 30 miles away, (stupidity #4) to pick it up in person.
    - Not delivering the package, and leaving a sticker on the door stating they had left it with the apartment manager. (Outright lie; the apartment manager was not in that day.)
    - Not delivering the package, and when I called to ask why, explaining that the driver did not have "the code to get in." (Another outright lie; I was not living in, or anywhere near, a gated community that would require such a code.)
    - Making me jump through any number of hoops to get a delivery note attached to the package instructing the driver to leave the package with the apartment manager if I wasn't there when it came time to deliver it... and then not delivering the package anyway. (Apartment manager was going to be there that time.) I called UPS and they said they would re-deliver it. Three hours later, I called back, and they said the driver attempted to deliver and found me not home. (Another lie; I was there the whole time and no one ever came.) Requests for another re-delivery were refused, even though I explained I was going out of town the next day and I had paid extra for expedited shipping.

    It's gotten to the point where I specifically request, when ordering a package, that they *not* ship via UPS. Remember Jim Cramer on the first Iron Man movie, mocking Stark Industries as "a weapons company that doesn't make weapons"? That's exactly how I view UPS: This is a package delivery company that doesn't deliver packages!

  • Apr 15th, 2015 @ 9:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

    Except, if it was UPS, they'd deliver it 3 days late and claim you weren't there at the airport to pick it up, because they sent it to the wrong one. Every. Single. Time.

    Why yes, I have had consistently horrible experience with them. Why do you ask?

  • Apr 15th, 2015 @ 7:26am

    Re: Re: Re: We could be even worse off...

    The Holy Inquisition.

    You wouldn't happen to be referring to the Spanish version of same, would you? You know, the guys who pioneered the concept of the presumption of innocence ("innocent until proven guilty") and the defendant's right of access to legal council? The people who effectively put an end to witch trials in Spain a century before the rest of Europe, by the simple expedient of requiring proof of the accused working black magic in order to convict? The guys who were one of the biggest civilizing forces of their day, and for that get remembered today as villains?

    Apparently nobody respects the Spanish Inquisition.

  • Apr 14th, 2015 @ 10:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Pot, meet kettle

    Literally developed by the Mafia? Hmm... do you have a citation on that? It would be interesting to look into...

  • Apr 13th, 2015 @ 7:23am

    (untitled comment)

    On a plain reading of it, true statements could be considered cyberbullying so long as they are repeated and are distressing or harmful to someone’s self-esteem.

    Clearly, Karen Bennett-Clayton does not remember middle school and high school. Truth is the worst kind of bullying there is, especially if everyone knows that it's true, because then the truth is no defense. Anyone who's ever done something embarrassing and been caught at it, or (possibly even worse) whose parents or other family members did something embarrassing/illegal knows exactly what I mean.

  • Apr 13th, 2015 @ 7:16am

    The obvious strategy

    1) Get a laptop, put a bunch of software, movies, and music on it, as well as a bunch of encrypted data, and cross the border.
    2) CBP takes a copy of the entire thing.
    3) Bust them for massive copyright infringement, since, as the last few years have shown clearly, copyright law trumps the US Constitution.

  • Apr 13th, 2015 @ 7:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Law school / An MBA

    Lawyers are taught that we live in a zero-sum society and one person's gain is necessarily another person's loss. (This is obviously untrue; we are richer than our troglodyte ancestors.)

    We're also in debt up to our eyeballs--it's not your wealth, afterall--if someone else can legally take it away--and indebted in more senses than simply money. A major driver of societal progress since the Industrial Revolution has been our increasing consumption of energy, derived by burning fossil fuels. We've already pumped more CO2 into the atmosphere than our climate can handle. It's no longer a matter of "reducing emissions;" in order to avoid catastrophe within the natural lifetimes of a bunch of us reading this today, we need to "reduce" CO2 emission to a negative number, and the longer we wait to do so, the worse it gets. That's debt too.

    They say there's no such thing as a free lunch, but we've been stealing our grandchildren's lunch and eating it and having them do the same to their own grandkids for centuries now, for so long that we begin to think it's normal. That all has to be paid off eventually, and "eventually" is getting here sooner than most people think!

  • Apr 10th, 2015 @ 1:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Historical amnesia.

    You want to be very careful about invoking the 1st Amendment to defend a law giving preferential rights to religious groups.

    Both the religious rights claimed by the one side of this issue and the LGBT-as-protected-minority status rights claimed by the other side are red herrings conveniently used by each side to rally supporters and demonize opponents, and both are ultimately irrelevant. Creating a law to officially uphold religious freedom in this specific case should not be necessary in the first place, as the actual issue is one of freedom of association, not freedom of religion. Both, however, are protected by the First Amendment and must be supported even in cases when the effect is something you find distasteful.

  • Apr 10th, 2015 @ 10:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Historical amnesia.

    So... what, then? Are you claiming that two wrongs make a right? The ends justify the means?

    That's the thing about the First Amendment. You have to support it even in cases where the effect is something you find distasteful, because if you let a well-intentioned exception chip away at it, it sets a precedent that will, sooner or later, be expanded upon in some way that acts against what you believe is good instead of in favor of it.

    The only valid exception is to ban things that actively cause harm per se, because that is the overarching philosophical purpose of law itself in a democracy: to protect citizens from harm. And "don't hurt people's feelings" simply does not clear this high bar.

  • Apr 10th, 2015 @ 10:10am

    Re: Re:

    The manager in your example would and is able to bar that disruptive customer from service. What he can't do is refuse service to someone from a specific protected group, such as race or religion. LGBT people are becoming such a protected group.

    I'm sure you didn't mean what you literally said, but what you said, as you said it, highlights one of the biggest problems with anti-discrimination laws. If he can't refuse service to a person of a specific protected group, then what happens if the obnoxious serial troublemaker happens to be black? Or lesbian? Or a black lesbian? She's already female; isn't it bad enough to discriminate against women?

    Yes, what the law actually says that it's not permitted to discriminate on the basis of protected status, but in practice there's a very fine line between "because" and "if," one that gets exploited pretty regularly. It's yet another case of a well-intentioned law that turns out to be an open invitation to abuse.

    I suggest you read up on the civil rights movement and what life was like for people of color back in the 60's.

    What makes you think I haven't? But as I've mentioned elsewhere in this page, the root cause of these problems was pro-discrimination laws, (colloquially known as "Jim Crow" laws,) under which a hypothetical business owner who didn't believe in discrimination and wanted to treat everyone equally could have faced liability. Once those laws were done away with, things got a lot better for black people very quickly.

    Anti-discrimination laws and pro-discrimination laws are the exact same problem--using legal pressure to force a person to violate their conscience and infringe upon their First Amendment right to freedom of association--expressed in opposite directions. Neither one has any legitimacy.

  • Apr 10th, 2015 @ 8:19am

    (untitled comment)

    Meh. 9 million isn't that important of a number.

    Now when it gets to 10,000,000, that'll be a big deal!

  • Apr 10th, 2015 @ 8:16am

    Re: Re: taken to the logical conclusion

    Sigh. Where's the "sad but true" button?

  • Apr 10th, 2015 @ 6:55am

    Re: Yeah, just "a few problems to solve".

    We can't simply scale up or expect miracle tech.

    ...says the guy on the Internet.

    Look around you and see how many commonplace things in your day-to-day life, including your modern clothing and diet, would have been considered miraculous just 200 years ago.

  • Apr 10th, 2015 @ 6:48am

    (untitled comment)

    They throw batteries at opposing baseball players... and their own.

    Assault and batteries?

  • Apr 10th, 2015 @ 6:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Prevention versus cure

    Yes, but now your example is just getting silly. As a general rule, the smaller a group is, the less people there are who are going to have a problem with them for whatever reason. If there really was a restaurant who didn't want to serve "people named John Smith," I'd find it highly unlikely that there would be even one other restaurant in the same city whose owner holds the same bias, which means that the impact on John Smith's choices is minimal even without a new place having to open up to cater to him.

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