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  • Oct 23rd, 2016 @ 10:59am

    (untitled comment)

    I _could_ see it being possible that this procedure would be necessary for some types of documents, given certain "wow, how far behind the times are they?" assumptions.

    For example, if the request were for information which is used and accessed in the company only through an archaic system with a clunky, 1980s-or-earlier interface (think AS/400, or suchlike), it might indeed be possible that the only "output" mode that such a system has is to print to paper. (While developing a method to extract the information by other means would certainly be possible, it would also cost money, and that's the sort of thing that could justify either added fees or an "undue burden" claim.)

    For the type of information the FOIA request involved here was actually seeking, however, it seems exceedingly unlikely that such a system would be involved at all.

  • Oct 22nd, 2016 @ 4:56am

    Devi'ls advocate

    I don't think Geller is misreading "permits" as "orders". I think she's using it in place of something like "empowers", and while she's wrong about the law and the consequences of her winning would be dreadful, I think her logic has some foundation to it. She still shouldn't be suing the DOJ, as such; I think what she should be doing, by the logic of her arguments, is suing to overturn Section 230 as being unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

    I think the logic is something like this:

    In the absence of Section 230, the platform would not be immune to lawsuit over actions taken in moderating user-posted content - e.g., disabling user accounts.

    With Section 230 in place, the platform is immune to such lawsuit.

    Thus, government intervention (in the form of enacting Section 230) is enabling the platform to shut down speech (by disabling accounts) with an impunity that would not have existed in the absence of that intervention.

    Thus, the platform is functioning as a state actor in shutting down speech.

    Thus, the law which provides them with the impunity which renders them a state actor in this context is in violation of the First Amendment.

    ...or something like that. The weak point of that logic is in the idea that the immunity provided by the law transforms the immunized entity into a state actor, and that idea is what would have to be argued and defended in court. The rest of the logic seems sound enough, however.

  • Oct 20th, 2016 @ 6:53am

    Re: Re:

    Not all paper ballots are punch-type ballots. The ones used in MD in the 2000 election involved the "feathers" of an arrow on the left, and the "head" on the right, and the way you marked the ballot was to draw a thick line (with a provided black marker) from the left to the right on the choice you wanted to vote for.

    When the "hanging chads" recount problem in Florida started to hit the news after that year's election, I looked at the MD ballot and thought "they should have used this instead, it would have avoided the problem entirely".

    Then of course MD switched over to electronic voting machines (with some kind of paper print-out, I think, although exactly how it's handled I don't know anymore), and abandoned that seemingly-superior paper-ballot design anyway...

  • Oct 17th, 2016 @ 6:58am


    My understanding is that Mike founded,runs, and (as much as anyone does) owns Techdirt. Suggesting that Techdirt should fire him seems a bit preposterous, in something approaching the literal sense.

  • Oct 17th, 2016 @ 6:51am


    The way I put it is that "facts are about observation; truth is about understanding".

    I originally arrived at that from the perspective of a context of a Sherlock Holmes-type detective investigating a crime, but I think it applies in pretty much every other context I've been able to think of as well.

    It certainly dovetails well with Stephen Colbert's "truthiness", and his line about not caring for facts but preferring truth instead.

  • Oct 17th, 2016 @ 4:53am

    Re: Just change the subject: Bill did it also

    At one point (I think before these allegations started to come forward), in response to a question about whether he had ever done the sorts of things he was talking about in the now-famous "Access Hollywood" video, he did - after two rounds of irrelevant responses, with repeated reference to how he has "so much respect for women" - say "No, I did not". That segment has been played on TV and radio multiple times.

    It could be argued that that statement, combined with the fact that he is calling the women who are making these allegations liars, constitute saying that he did not assault these women.

  • Oct 16th, 2016 @ 6:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: TRUMP IS A JOKE

    I'm sure quite a few people would have said the same thing about many of your posts.

    What I just said is, essentially:

    * If you include "Please... no emails!" in a post but don't include an E-mail address, I flag the post.

    * If you do your U-N-R-E-A-D-A-B-L-E emphasis in a post, I flag the post.

    * If you go on an off-topic rant in a post, I flag the post.

    * The fact that you felt it appropriate to make the post to which I was replying means I no longer have any regrets, or feel any guilt, about doing this.

  • Oct 15th, 2016 @ 3:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: TRUMP IS A JOKE


    If I had any compunctions about having taken up flagging every post you make which contains the "no emails" request without any proximate E-mail address, does any of your bizarre formatting, or involve an off-topic rant, this has pretty much destroyed them.

  • Oct 15th, 2016 @ 3:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: TRUMP IS A JOKE

    That question seems nonsensical. If we knew the answer, why would we ask?

  • Oct 14th, 2016 @ 9:40am


    I've begun habitually flagging any post of his in which he includes that tagline and omits an E-mail address (which works out to about 99% of his posts). I think I even did that with a post which I also voted insightful, once.

  • Oct 9th, 2016 @ 6:47am


    Why do you keep saying "Please!... no emails!" in comments in which you do not provide any E-mail address, and so no one reading the comment would be able to send you E-mail in any case?

  • Oct 5th, 2016 @ 7:41am

    (untitled comment)

    Why? They have competition, they are not run or controlled by the government and they have a responsibility to the majority of their customers (most importantly, advertisers, not just normal users).
    Because they don't have meaningful competition in their own space (or at least not enough of it), because of the network effects which kick in when a platform gets to anywhere near Facebook's current share of its market.

    Part of the reason why the government may not censor speech in the public square is that saying "you can speak, but only where the public can't hear you" is not terribly meaningfully different from saying "you can't speak at all".

    Saying "you can say this, but you can't say it on Facebook" is saying "you can say this, but you can't say it where (large parts of) the public can hear you". Just because it's Facebook, a private company, engaging in the censorship does not make it less censorship, nor less of a problem; it just means that it's not a type of censorship which is prohibited by the First Amendment.

    When there is an established platform for speech - such that to move speech away from that platform is to remove that speech from view so that it will not be heard - which is controlled by a private company, it is just as bad for that company to be permitted to censor that speech as it is for the government to be permitted to censor speech in the public square.

    The only solution I can see would be to require that such public-square speech platforms be implemented not as "platforms" in the usual sense, but as protocols, more analogous to the old news:// protocol underlying Usenet than to existing central-provider social-media platforms we see today. (See also things like RSS and BitTorrent; the concept of peering, where each peer decides which other peers' content they should redistribute, is also relevant.) That way, anyone who wants to get in on the business can provide all the same content (meaning: existing posts which people have shared publicly, et cetera), without having to struggle against network effects to gain enough users - and, thus, existing content - for it to seem like a reasonable place to speak.

    The only way I can see to "get there from here", however, would be for the major established platforms - such as Facebook - to reimplement themselves on top of such a protocol, such that other entities using the same protocol could have (theoretically-)equal access to the existing content and therefore the user base would have less reason not to switch providers. Given that this would open them up to more direct and active competition, however, the established platforms have no incentive to undertake any such effort.

  • Oct 3rd, 2016 @ 5:38am

    Re: Re: Iddiots

    If the third-party boxes work out to be more expensive, the consumer would still have the option of going with the cable provider's set-top box. This plan wasn't designed to take away any options from the consumer, only to add new ones.

    As to the "no one needs cable" argument - you're right, they don't. That's why so many people are cutting the cord, and why it would be in the cable industry's best interest to support things which might help keep them from doing that or draw them back - things such as the improved features and/or reduced prices which might come from the increased competition which this proposal would enable.

  • Oct 3rd, 2016 @ 5:33am

    Re: Take a hard look

    What are you talking about?

    The point of this article is that a new regulation which would> have helped people has not been enacted, due to the pressure of those special interests.

    The special interests were fighting against the new regulation, because it would have damaged their monopoly control.

  • Oct 2nd, 2016 @ 3:21pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The quote is from Chris Fabricant, of the Innocence Project. Its thrust appears to be incredulity at the suggestion that Eric Lander would do anything like what the claims are essentially accusing him of.

  • Oct 2nd, 2016 @ 11:20am

    Re: Re:

    I think the argument is that Google's news search results reflect the news articles which the media is producing, so the dearth of negative results in Google searches represents the lack of negative coverage by the media, which indicates bias towards the thing not being negatively covered.

    This argument ignores at least one obvious explanation which does not involve bias, in addition to being offtopic to the article currently at hand, but it is at least internally consistent.

  • Oct 2nd, 2016 @ 6:27am


    With added "my penis" euphemistic overtones, naturally.

  • Oct 2nd, 2016 @ 5:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Fat Man Gadget =?

    This thread is about Peter Wexler, or at least it was until you brought Hillary Clinton into things. As such, your posts here are offtopic and look very much like trying-to-provoke-a-reaction trolling, and I've flagged them (other than the one I'm now replying to) on those grounds.

  • Sep 30th, 2016 @ 6:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Stupid question from the EU

    As other people have said in these comments: these are the city's poles. It's the equipment that's already on the poles that belongs to the companies, and that's what the companies are saying no one should be allowed to touch (i.e., move around to make room for new stuff) without their permission.

  • Sep 30th, 2016 @ 6:01am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Unfortunately, I think that does lose meaningful amounts of nuance; without the contextual indication that I'm referring specifically to causes which they have backed during the campaign to date (which carries the subtextual implication that they may have backed some of those causes insincerely, only to raise support), it leaves more room for them to deliver a nonresponsive answer which can be plausibly claimed to address the question that was actually presented.

    I have compressed the question itself down to something that's nearly short enough (the limit is 80 characters), but I'm reluctant to submit it in that form. This is probably related to one of the principles which define my approach to life: "if you're not going to do something right, you shouldn't bother to do it at all". (In practice, that's a goal, which frequently has to be compromised on for the sake of actually getting things done - but it does sum up my feelings on such matters fairly well.)

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