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  • Nov 24th, 2016 @ 6:45pm

    Broken economic models

    How do you expect real news to compete with the fake stuff? The production costs are much higher, and fake news can even find its own best markets. At least the Macedonian kids are claiming that they focused on pro-Trump anti-Hillary fake stories because that's what the suckers clicked on--and they just wanted the money from the viral clicks. People want to brainwash themselves, though the google calls it personalization and Facebook calls it "friends".

    There was a time when news was seen as a public service. The old newspaper model is more complicated, but in the radio days the monopoly on a frequency had to be justified with some public services, including news. That model was attacked by the Reaganauts, but completely crushed by the Web.

    The two most "successful" economic models for news these days are disaster porn, as seen on CNN, and paid propaganda, as seen on FAUX "news". In neither case are they interested in the production of well-informed and discerning citizens. There's a difference in emphasis, however. The advertisers are more focused on your obedience to the toothpaste commercials, while the propagandists mostly want you to obey the political ads.

  • Nov 5th, 2016 @ 2:29am

    Nobody expects the Email Inquisition

    Not even Hillary, evidently. Apparently the FBI is also broken internally, but the best spin I can imagine is that the FBI just wanted Email-Inquisition parity with the NSA and CIA.

    There's an obvious reason the FBI hates email privacy. It's like a contagious disease. If you're going to protect anyone's email privacy, you have to protect Kevin Bacon's email privacy, too, and all of the email of the people in between. Really inconvenient for the FBI agents if the default is "email is private" and they actually have to get a warrant with some kind of probable cause.

    One obvious conclusion is that Hillary might like to increase the privacy of email. Hers and yours. A big victory might have included enough Congressional support to do something, while the now likely narrow victory means 4 more years of partisan deadlock.

    In contrast, if Trump wins this election because of the intervention of the FBI (and possibly supported by Putin), then he certainly owes the FBI big time, and it seems more likely his first executive order will take the leashes off. The FBI says they need copies of ALL your email, forever and ever, even including your spam, just in case some of the spam has secret encoded messages that might be decoded someday.

    Attempted deletion of email will be a criminal offense and a free one-way ticket to the glorious new Gitmo City paid for by Cuba! Maybe you can get the cell next to Hillary?

    Nobody expects the Email Inquisition.

  • Oct 31st, 2016 @ 1:13am

    Re: Re: Relationship between funny and insightful

    Is he still around? Or he took his profits and ran away?

    Not in this week's, and I can't recall having seen him winning recently.

  • Oct 30th, 2016 @ 5:09pm

    Relationship between funny and insightful

    Almost equivalent, though not identical. Tightly related to learning new things, and as such I suspect they are both closely bound to what makes us human.

    Hopefully the insightful side is intuitively obvious to the most casual observer (but in the literal sense, not the idiom), though an example may help on the funny side. Even slapstick humor is educational. We learn NOT to do that by laughing at someone else's pain.

    Now what I would like to learn is what aspect of TechDirt makes commenting feel so unrewarding. Perhaps the apparent prevalence of Anonymous Cowards?

  • Aug 17th, 2016 @ 11:04pm

    Typo correction

    "solution solution" was supposed to have been change to "seeking a solution". Not sure how that slipped in there. Pretty sure I did preview and I even remember making some last minute change in that sentence, but...

    Another meta-comment on TD is that I thought it had an edit function for posts, but I was obviously mistaken. As I noted, I usually don't comment here.

  • Aug 17th, 2016 @ 10:58pm

    You must be new around here

    There are some people who are NOT seeking civilized conversation or dialog. They are often called "trolls". Pretty hard to speculate on their motives, but some of them seem to seek attention while others might be sincere Sophists trying to defend intellectually bankrupt causes. Sometimes you have to speculate some trolls are paid to act insane.

    By a solution solution from the perspective of saving time (especially my own), I am now advocating this three-part solution:

    (1) Some kind of kill list for long-lived trolls.
    (2) A maturity filter for short-lived trolls (especially throwaway sock puppets).
    (3) A reflexive sincerity check.

    By "reflexive", I mean that it would first check from the side of the ostensible recipient, and if the reply is not sincere (because it will never be seen), then the reply would get an "Insincere reply" warning (which would also facilitate ignoring the post by people who don't want to waste time on trolls). Yes, there are some trolls who might try to "play to the audience", even after they were warned, but I think these three steps would get rid of most of them without requiring eternal vigilance.

    Not sure if this idea applies to TechDirt. The discussions here seem pretty moribund and uninteresting. Might be due to excessive moderation or just a small number of members participating in discussions. (I often perceive the topics as too transient to comment on.)

  • Jul 27th, 2016 @ 1:54pm

    Which way does the meddling go?

    Is this turnabout fair play for America's meddling in world politics? Or should we regard it as the natural exploitation of America's divided weakness?

    On one hand, of course we're supposed to say that America was right in meddling because of the noble intentions. Oil does not count and let's forget about such tawdry money-related things.

    On the other hand, "Politics stops at the water's edge" is certainly a sad joke these years. Today's so-called Republicans pledged themselves to President Obama's failure, both foreign and domestic, on day one. The miracle is that he was able to do anything with Dubya's mess over the last eight years, and there's no surprise that Hillary had trouble cleaning up Cheney's mess over the neo-GOP obstructionism.

    Putin would be a fool not to take advantage of the situation, and paid trolls certainly would explain some of the tide of mass insanity that the Donald of Trump is now surfing towards the White House. Putin would love to watch Trump throw America into reverse at 90 miles an hour.

  • Jul 26th, 2016 @ 12:28pm

    Surfing the rising tide of mass insanity

    Trump's next book should be titled "How to Surf the Rising Tide of Mass Insanity and Win so Big the Country Can't Stand it". It's only natural that American copyright law should be insane, too, and it is only fitting that the Donald jump into that mess, too.

    We have always had madmen among us, but usually they don't rise to positions of great power. It happens, but history usually frowns on them, even when they win as big as Genghis Khan. Our scale of insanity is broken and we need to repeal Godwin's Law before we can even discuss the problems? I bet little Adolf had a GREAT solution to any copyright problems he encountered at his little rallies. Just send a few Brown Shirts to "consult" with the annoying artists and the problems went away. (Anyone know the actual historical details?)

    In some countries the artists can retain some control over the use of their creations, but in America the rules of the game are written by the most cheaply bribed politicians working for the greediest and most sociopathic businessmen. They only love money and their fundamental problem is unsolvable. NO amount of money is enough. Trump is the natural result, no matter how insane the so-called Republican platform has become. He who dies with the most toys is still dead.

  • Jul 25th, 2016 @ 1:21pm

    Confusing "legal" with "right"

    Just because something is legal does not make it right or moral. Especially not on the word of a lawyer whose professional training is mostly about ignoring right and wrong.

    Not sure that TechDirt article was written by a lawyer. Couldn't find the attribution, but it sure reads like a legal shill working for Trump.

    The opinion of the creator should count. The fans like music because they agree with the creator's message, and the creator has every right to be angry when the music is used to fluff up propaganda. Even angrier when the creator knows the propaganda is a passel of lies (AKA "Trump said it").

    Trump has ridden free publicity to the door of the White House, but now he wants to block anyone else from using free publicity against him? If hypocrisy was fatal, the so-called Republican Party would have died out a long time ago. Con Man Donald has NO connection to Honest Abe.

  • Jul 5th, 2016 @ 1:39pm

    Problems of democracy?

    Problems of democracy? Whoa, lad, you're going too fast there. There are SO many problems of democracy that it's probably crazy even to try to pick #1.

    However, I can take a shot at why technology is making things worse, and it comes down to bad economic models. Consider the google, for example. On the surface, it looks great and extremely profitable, but in their never-ending quest for more of your time and attention because they NEVER have a "big enough" profit, they are now focused on stuffing your eyeballs and earholes with exactly what you want to hear for fear of losing your attention.

    Per my sig, freedom (as a justification for democracy) is about meaningful and unconstrained choice. Choice is NOT meaningful when all of the information has been slanted in favor of not offending you. Even worse, choice is NOT unconstrained when your personal information is being collected and used to manipulate you.

    Not just the google, but I think they are probably the worst corporation on these lines. The 'no evil' thing is dead. The google's current motto must be "All your attention are belong to us, the google."

    Weirdly enough, I think there is a solution, and it could begin on websites such as TechDirt. It would involve a different economic model focused on SOLVING the problems that the website's articles (or videos etc.) are telling us about.

    My new motto is "Details available upon (polite) request, or even better if maybe you have a better idea."

  • Jun 19th, 2016 @ 1:36pm

    Insightful? Not so much.

    The helicopter thing was kind of amusing, but not insightful. Mostly a political screed.It could have gotten up to informative if it had included some of the numbers, but insightful would have called for something like the fundamental conflict between the freedom of flying and the need for absolutely reliable computer control (sans human freedom) to make it remotely plausible, given our poor human reflexes and worse judgment. (Writing as a pilot who lost his ticket for taking out a few harmless runway lights.)

    The one about Hillary also failed to be insightful, but might have been slightly humorous to some people. Why would she want to buy a gun? She has secret service protection. Insight might have been to consider if people under FBI investigation should be allowed to hire armed bodyguards. Still don't see how to make it a problem for Hillary, at least on the theory that the secret service will probably cooperate with the FBI if they want to arrest someone.

  • Apr 26th, 2016 @ 5:53pm

    Re: Re: Good GMO versus bad

    Much to say, but not in response to an AC.

  • Apr 25th, 2016 @ 5:24pm

    Good GMO versus bad

    Tomatoes. Genetically modified for even outside color and higher retail prices even if the insides are half unripe. Bad.

    Humans. Genetic testing to avoid Tay-Sachs. Good.

    Even the simple example will confuse many people. No need for abortion. The genetic testing could be used to deter people with the recessive gene from marrying each other in the first place. Still GMO and eugenics, though you might prefer a different flavor, eh?

    Actually, a lot of the confusion involves misunderstanding what the genes represent. They are NOT a blueprint for a unique organism or even a set of genetically identical organisms. They are more like a set of recipes for a rather large set of possible organisms... Your results will differ depending on many factors, but especially the nutrients.

    (I sympathize since I only came to understand this difference a few years ago. Probably thanks to Richard Dawkins?)

  • Mar 4th, 2016 @ 10:58pm

    Finally! But don't you want MY money?

    Glad to see that they got their funding, but why not replace that project with another deserving project to consider? Even better, why not offer several choices for us to consider? Even better than that, why doesn't someone (could be TechDirt) act as the charity share brokerage and hold the money for to-be-funded projects?

  • Mar 3rd, 2016 @ 4:38pm

    Wrong economic model

    Unless the economic models make it unprofitable, our privacy will continue to be abused. The funny part is that we don't need new laws in America. It's basically in the Bill of Rights, and it would be obvious if certain so-called justices didn't think that corporations are real people rather than legal fictions (that occasionally must be regarded as having status in lawsuits involving contracts).

    The solution is actually an old quasi-joke: "Possession is nine points of the law." Before we had all these computers and stuff, your personal information was mostly in your head, and if someone wanted to know when you visited a convenience store, they had to ask you, not the recordings of the surveillance cameras. That information should be owned by the person it relates to, and even stored where that person wants it stored. Accessing the information for any purpose should require the permission of the owner AKA the person involved.

    If there are several people involved (and there usually are), then the natural solution is that all of them share ownership and have copies of the information. Anyone else has to get permission after explaining why, and can't legally retain the information after the purpose of the why has been satisfied.

  • Feb 24th, 2016 @ 4:24pm

    Learning from idiots?

    "When encryption is outlawed, only outlaws will have encryption."

    If you have nothing to hide, you don't need it, so wanting the ability to keep anything a secret from the government proves you're a criminal.

    Of course, the FBI is not doing this as a political scam on the "lucky" opportunity of using an infamous case to outlaw encryption. They are just trying to drum up business, since they know EVERYONE has some secret.

    By the way, there is too much focus on the negative side of dirty secrets and hidden crimes used as sticks. The carrot side is just as bad, less noticeable, and MORE in use.

    Actually, Apple is a leading abuser on that side. The personal data about your interests, tastes, and even your strengths is used by the marketeers to manipulate you and sell you all manner of stylish crape you don't need.

    (My dark secret is a propensity to use four-letter words like crape.)

  • Jan 11th, 2016 @ 4:43pm

    I hate typos

    Sorry about the typos, but I don't see any way to fix them now. Honest, I thought I reread it carefully twice before posting, but there's a tendency to see what you know you meant to write, eh?

  • Jan 11th, 2016 @ 4:33pm

    Painfully obvious: Divide and conquer

    Not a general solution, but for the specific problem of Daesh/ISIL the American phools on the neo-GOPpy far right need to stop playing by THEIR rules. They WANT to be called "Islamic extremists" precisely because they are NOT the mainstream. They want ALL Muslims to be driven into their funny farm in insane violence.

    The most important thing rational non-partisan "We HATE Obama most of all" opponents of Daesh need to do is describe them narrowly, NOT broadly. The lunatic extremists need to be clearly separated from the mainstream mass of peaceful and rational Muslims, not pushed together. Daesh sincerely (and insanely) WANTS an all-out war against Islam.

    Once divided from the rest of the Muslims, that leads to the conquer question of who is going to put the boots on the ground to finish cleaning up the mess, and that's where it gets messy in a political sense. I really expected the response to the latest major atrocity in Paris was going to be an unleashing of Iran. They are the only source of eager boots, but... If Daesh is most precisely described as Wahabbi extremist terrorists... Well, you should see where that is leading and why we do NOT need cheap imported oil, but NO oil at all.

  • Dec 10th, 2015 @ 9:39pm

    Like Abe Lincoln said:

    Like Abe Lincoln said when he created the Internet: " that government of the corporations, by the lawyers, for the richest 0.1%, shall rule the earth."

  • Dec 8th, 2015 @ 4:36pm

    Re: Mathematically impossible?

    Ha! You haven't seen how well he gerrymandered his own district. Considering his own incompetence and stupidity, he must be some kind of idiot savant genius at rigging elections.

    And you thought elections were about voters picking politicians, didn't you? It's the OTHER way around, with phools like McCaul picking their voters first!

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