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  • Sep 27th, 2016 @ 10:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Fairness is a social principle worth protecting

    Ohhh, line cutting while driving is one of my biggest pet peeves!

    Being behind the wheel makes you relatively anonymous. Anonymity emboldens people to much higher levels of bad behavior!

    But for some reason the people at the front of the line still let the line-cutters in! That I don't understand.

  • Sep 26th, 2016 @ 12:00pm

    Fairness is a social principle worth protecting

    Mike, the behavior in the economics experiment you cite isn't ridiculous. It's only ridiculous because you refuse to learn what it demonstrates: that fairness is a social principle and people are willing to pay a cost to increase the chances that things are fair. You conclude by admitting you haven't or don't want to learn this, "I get that it happens, but it still confuses me to no end why anyone could possibly think it's a good result."

    Ruckel went to extremes we might not agree with, especially as there were lower-cost ways (mentioned by you and others) to solve the problem, but this is not, "a weird attempt to insert a 'fairness standard' where it doesn't make any sense". Rather it is an attempt to insert a fairness standard where it makes total sense.

    The only question here is a difference in opinion about about how much it's worth to enforce this standard. This may be an extreme case, so you may find a lot of people agree that they went to far. But that they were willing to pay a cost to achieve a principle is not ridiculous in itself.

    Fairness underlies much of our society's norms. Much of the difference between conservatives and liberals comes down to how much they prioritize things like fairness. (See a TED talk on this: )

    Take another example of this, but non-economic. People in the US stand in orderly queues. Cutting in line is very much frowned upon. You are very likely to get confronted if you cut in line, perhaps even violently confronted. That's just the fairness principle: first come first served. The fairness principle helps avoid an outcome we've agreed as a society is worse: strongest come first served.

    Other countries don't enforce queues to the extent the US does. They don't mind, and it doesn't devolve into brawls. I can hardly stand it myself, but natives don't seem to mind. It's a matter of degree.

  • Sep 2nd, 2016 @ 10:42am


    FedEx may not even know what their customers are copying. They certainly aren't taking the content and then advertising "Hey Come to FedEx to get your Great Minds content". That would be profiting off the copyrighted material.

    As others have stated, as it is, they are only making money off their copying service, completely independent of what content they are copying.

  • Aug 31st, 2016 @ 2:23pm

    Re: Just wait

    Fixing this imbalance of power would help with so many anti-consumer practices that we see every day.

    Corporations can come up with any old "policy" they want and force us to do things their way because they have the leverage. We have few places (sometimes only one) where we can do business. If we choose to stop doing business with one because we don't like their policies (or prices or whatever), then we suffer a real loss. But if a business loses just one customer out of millions like this, they barely notice.

    The government should be the entity that balances this playing field, since they could represent consumers en masse, but it doesn't work out that way.

    The politician who figures out how to do this will change the world.

  • Aug 31st, 2016 @ 8:37am

    Re: Parallels

    I don't think this is the same at all. No one is using their money to run down St. Jude's. They are using information about St. Jude's behavior. And they aren't directly costing St. Jude money. St. Jude doesn't have to directly spend money in response to this.

    Their stock price may go down, and that can be viewed as a loss, but it's only a loss on paper in the near term. St. Jude could prevent any loss in stock price by behaving better. Even if their stock price fell to zero, they could still continue as a business in theory. For example, if their customers didn't walk away.

  • Jun 28th, 2016 @ 6:58am

    Better quality fabric

    Please pick a higher quality fabric for this than you did for the "Nerd Harder." t-shirt. It's pretty thin and insubstantial.

  • May 31st, 2016 @ 2:23pm

    Confirmation Bias

    As @Uriel-238 and @ThatOneGuy already mentioned, this is just another smokescreen for "we wanted to search you". But it's so egregious it gives lie to the phrase "false positive". Seems like what they want here is "all positive" so that when all the results are kept secret, they can just trot out the positive results they like and say, see, it worked; this guy was a terrorist and our fancy software also said so.

    It's just a plausibly-enough technical-sounding solution that politicians can plausibly pretend that it works because most people won't be able to evaluate why it doesn't.

    As a last resort, we can "have a discussion" over it's efficacy.

  • Feb 25th, 2016 @ 5:33am

    Power of Advertising

    This is the power of advertising. It makes you jump to all kinds of conclusions without a shred of data. The reactions to this image highlight it's power. Imagine the reactions if it had been a room full of Olympic athletes!

  • Feb 22nd, 2016 @ 8:15am

    Control and convenience

    People may now be starting to become aware that they have opted in to a system in which they have traded control and privacy for convenience.

    It is convenient for Apple/Microsoft/Android-device-makers to be able to automatically update software remotely, but the price is that those companies get to their fingers on your device at any/all times.

    If you want security independent of some company like these, the ecosystem must be restructured. It's not a matter of Apple (or whoever) giving you better security; it's a matter of taking security out of Apple's hands.

  • Feb 22nd, 2016 @ 8:06am

    Strongest link is encryption

    The strongest link in the chain of data security is encryption. We don't know of a technology that is better at keeping things secret. So, the best security you have is when you have a "key"/password that will decrypt data. (And remember, your data is only secure because/when it is hard to guess or figure out the key.)

    *Anything* else is a weaker link in the chain of security. So relying on features in an OS to protect you is weaker. Unless you and you alone have the key, you can't assume it is secure.

    For Apple to be able to remotely install and update the OS means that any security features they implement can be circumvented, unless you can prevent that process using some form of encryption with your own key. Any other form of security will be weaker.

    So, the strength of your Apply security is directly tied to the strength of Apple's backbone and the laws they/we confront.

  • Feb 22nd, 2016 @ 7:51am


    The whole "conversation" gambit has a perverse and beautiful simplicity to it. You can use it whenever you're faced with resistance to a stand you are taking, and it makes you sound "reasonable": "I'm not the bad guy here. I just want to have a 'conversation' to figure out the right way to do this."

    But it's a trap for the other side. As soon as they say anything that doesn't have the same facade of conciliation, then you can criticize them for being "extreme".

    Further, you can always rehash old ground or backtrack in your argument by saying you just want to "continue" the "conversation".

    All it really is, is a stalling and deflection tactic, allowing you to wait for another chance. When you hear someone use it, there's something slimy going on.

  • Feb 11th, 2016 @ 9:59am


    As a side note, one wonders how useless all of that in-flight WiFi equipment is going to be in the near future.

    Laptops won't get banned. Airlines make money (or expect to) by providing wifi, so they want people to bring their laptops. If TSA threatens their revenue, the lobbyists will spring into existence.

  • Nov 17th, 2015 @ 11:53am

    Threat from Big Business

    I picked up on the scare tactic Gaudino used, that Big Ag and Big Pharma would come do the patenting if the small players don't. I agree with Masnick about the ridiculousness of patents in this area and how they kill innovation, but this threat seems like a real risk. It's the system perpetuating the system. If you don't do it, someone else will and then you will be hosed. That's another of the perversities of the patent system.

  • Nov 6th, 2015 @ 9:23am


    You beat me to the point by 3 minutes! ;)

  • Nov 6th, 2015 @ 9:22am

    Extra-governmental corporations

    It seems the push these days is to transform corporations -- which used to have to work within a country's governmental apparatus -- into extra-governmental entities that instead of adhering to a country's laws instead dictate those laws to them.

    I do not want to live in the sovereign state of Big Business!

  • Oct 7th, 2015 @ 1:40pm

    Politicians are accountable to industry

    The fundamental problem here is that politicians are not accountable to the voters. They are accountable to industry.
    That's why so much of the TPP protects legacy players in user-unfriendly ways.

    There may be a short-term solution in the form of public outrage and such. If so, count me in. The long-term solution is to find a way to get politicians to be accountable to voters again. I think it is real campaign finance reform. But whatever, if you care about things like the TPP (or any other similar issue), what you should really care about first is fixing campaign finance. You can't get politicians to fix anything in favor of voters until they feel accountable to the voters.

  • Oct 7th, 2015 @ 1:31pm

    My front door

    Anti-circumvention is like saying it is illegal for me to break my own front door (say, if I locked my keys in the house). It may be illegal for me to break down someone else's door, but I can kick in my own door if I want. Same should go for my digital goods.

  • Sep 29th, 2015 @ 5:13pm

    Re: Re: A game of statistics

    The value in advertising is not what a seller gets out of doing it, but what they lose by not doing it. If you have two equivalent products X and Y, and X advertises but Y does not, Y will lose. So if one advertises, both must.

    That's only one layer in the logic of advertising, though. As others have pointed out, it is complex and illogical, and works in ways we may not even understand or be aware of.

  • Sep 29th, 2015 @ 5:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A game of statistics

    Or that there are any number of functionally identical alternatives that you'd be just as well off buying.

  • Sep 29th, 2015 @ 5:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A game of statistics

    There isn't "truth" in advertising because there isn't "truth" in purchasing. It's a two-sided coin (multi-headed hydra!).

    I hate ads as much or more than anyone. I don't have cable because of ads; I don't watch broadcast TV because of ads; I block web ads entirely online; I don't use apple products because they don't let me block ads my way [via the hosts file]; I have subscriptions to Netflix and SiriusXM (and avoid the Sirius/XM channels with ads); etc. Seriously, I hate ads.

    That being said, I think we as consumers need to admit to our part in how things got this way. We are fickle. We choose products not based on "truth" but based on emotion, style, popularity, etc. You might believe there is "truth", but really there isn't.

    Seriously, Coke is not objectively better than Pepsi. You have your preference, I have mine. Coke cannot create an ad saying, "we fulfill all the criteria of being a cola better than Pepsi". Proper competition results in products that are functionally identical. Once you have that, all you have left to differentiate yourself, to sell yourself, is intangibles where you have to "create" the value out of nothing. So even in an ideal world, all advertising can do is create the sense in you that you want product X over product Y, for no objective reason.

    If we want ads that are less annoying then we need consumers that are less swayed by them. Do you buy generics? Why not? Do you buy the staid, solid Consumer Reports-rated car or the stylish one? Do you buy the $15 wine or the $50 wine? Do you objectively rate products on quality (on your own scale) and then buy the best or one with the best quality/value ratio?

    People don't buy that way so advertisers don't advertise that way. It's not all the advertisers fault.

    This still doesn't mean I have to look at ads, though! And I blame all y'all for this state of affairs. Not my fault, I buy objectively. ( ;) )

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