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  • Aug 23rd, 2017 @ 7:20am

    TV news

    As I think I've said here before, there is exactly one thing tying my household to cable television:

    Live TV news-and-analysis programming.

    When it becomes possible to reasonably get CNN and MSNBC (and possibly a couple other such channels; for myself, I'd like C-SPAN) separately rather than with a cable subscription, we'll probably cut the cord in short order.

    Time was Comedy Central would have been on that prerequisite list as well, but with Colbert et al. having moved on to other things, I don't think there's anything there which we can't get just as well elsewhere.

  • Aug 23rd, 2017 @ 6:54am

    (untitled comment)

    I don't consider "the police are against [X]" to be a moral view, or a moral question, and I don't think anyone else here does either.

    The fact is that "the police" are not a monolithic entity. I know some police officers, and at my workplace, one of the groups for which I provide technical support is a police academy where new officers are trained; there's so much variation in the people I see in those roles, there's no way "the police" can all hold the same views or be equally complicit in any failings. (Although broad statistical observations can still be made and be accurate.)

    The situation with regard to "the police" is a sufficiently complex one that only a lengthy, nuanced analysis has any meaningful likelihood of being accurate, beyond broad strokes. If you want a single, simple, brief statement, you're not going to get it.

    That said, while I don't always agree with every particular statement made here at Techdirt on the subject (especially in comment threads), I do generally concur that the analysis of the situation which I see presented here is largely correct. (At most, it may be a bit too broad.)

    And to answer your initial question: again, not enough information. Just looking at the people (police and otherwise), and seeing the context in which they are encountering one another (including various details which one wouldn't think to include in a description), would give me hints which would shape my reaction and thus my decision about what action to take.

    That said: most of the time, I would stand by and let the police handle it, unless it looked like I could produce a better outcome by attempting to defuse the conflict entirely. The circumstances which would lead me to attempt to intervene on either side are relatively rare.

  • Aug 23rd, 2017 @ 6:42am

    (untitled comment)

    I don't blame Trump for the rise of white nationalism.

    I blame Trump for *legitimizing* white nationalism, by accepting its support and failing to clearly condemn it (and, at least arguably, even espousing some of its views - albeit in less blatant and aggressive forms).

    Taking an extreme, fringe viewpoint and making it seem acceptable and mainstream is an act worthy of either praise or condemnation all on its own, depending on what you think of the viewpoint in question.

    White nationalism, et cetera, aren't all the way there - but they're a hell of a lot closer than they were this time last year, and a hell of a lot closer than they would be likely to be if Trump hadn't won the electoral college.

  • Aug 22nd, 2017 @ 6:10am

    (untitled comment)

    I am; that's probably correlated to why I would give *both* parties the benefit of the doubt.

    Giving the benefit of the doubt to the police does not extend as far as using deadly force (myself! - not even just permitting the police to use it) against a person just because the police are in conflict with that person.

  • Aug 21st, 2017 @ 8:23pm

    (untitled comment)

    A: Mu. This situation would not arise; if Mike Masnick had a gun to someone's head, it would not be for the purpose of silencing that person.

    B: The unknown person, assuming I can't practically defuse the situation in a less extreme way. (But how do I know that this person is doing the gun-to-head thing for the purpose of silencing the speaker, if the person is unknown to me?)

    C: Neither. I don't have enough information about the situation to decide that the use of deadly force is (even potentially) justified.

  • Aug 20th, 2017 @ 4:04pm


    Because trolls, and because too few people retain the old admonition DFTT.

    Or as someone (or some set of ones) used to put it, in old Techdirt comment threads: "Just flag and move on."

    For myself, while I rarely reply (even to respectable comments, much less to trolling), I also don't reflexively flag, even when it's clear from the ephemeral avatar icon that the poster is the same one who's been flag-worthy elsewhere in the same comments page; I consider each post individually.

    (And then usually wind up flagging it, because seriously, have you seen the posts this guy writes?)

  • Aug 20th, 2017 @ 2:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The reason people want to have statues of famous Confederate figures removed is not because they are of people who owned slaves.

    It is because they are of people who, by their (AFAIK entirely voluntary) actions, opposed ending slavery.

    It is because that is the only, or at least by far the most major, thing for which these people are famous - and, thereby, the thing for which they are being honored with these statues.

    It is because to have these statues up is to honor the pro-slavery cause for which these people fought.

    By contrast, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington and so forth are famous in history for many things which do not involve their support for the cause of slavery; in fact, it is entirely possible to present a reasonably comprehensive history of the things for which they are remembered which does not mention slavery at all. It is to honor these things, not their ownership of slaves, that these statues exist.

    If you want to have public images to remind us of the history of slavery, in a "never forget, so that we never repeat these things" line, that's fine; there are ways to do that, even ways involving statuary, which do not involve presenting those who fought to preserve slavery as figures worthy of honor and respect. If you want to design and/or commission such a statue, I wish you all success.

  • Aug 20th, 2017 @ 1:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I think what Bergman was claiming is that that color-blind ideal would be considered racist under the modern definition, because it does not do anything to support people who have been disadvantaged due to *past* racism. I.e., one of the same arguments that crops up in affirmative-action debates.

    I would agree that the color-blind society would be the ideal, but we don't have that yet, and I would also probably agree that some degree of "counterbalancing unfair disadvantage due to race" is probably appropriate. The devil, however, is in the details.

    (Also, as long as we still think of "race" as a thing, we will never achieve that color-blind society. The core idea of racism, on which everything else is based, is the idea that the ill-defined collection of characteristics which we label as "race" is an appropriate basis for categorization; as long as we still think of "race" as being a set of categories, much less - however unconsciously - classify people into those categories, a post-racism society is impossible.)

  • Aug 20th, 2017 @ 12:28pm


    I think that the idea is that merchandise using the logo without being licensed is counterfeiting the logo, and thus is counterfeit merchandise.

    That idea ignores the existence of parody (and possibly other considerations), but it's at least internally consistent.

  • Aug 20th, 2017 @ 9:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I think the "convicted criminal" being referred to was Chelsea Manning, not OJ Simpson. IIRC, Manning received a pardon (in some form) from Obama.

    The "and no one likes it" is demonstrably false, though.

  • Aug 19th, 2017 @ 5:04am

    Re: Re: UNTIL..

    The trouble is that if you don't vote, you are not counted towards the "total" which determines how many votes constitute a "majority".

    In other words: if you vote, and there are 1,000,000 votes cast in that specific election, then winning requires getting 500,001 votes.

    But if you don't vote, then there are only 999,999 votes cast in that specific election, and winning requires only getting 500,000 votes.

    A "none of the above" ballot option would have your vote counted towards the total, but not towards any of the individual candidates.

    The problem with that, and one of the major reasons why such an option is unlikely to ever be adopted, is the question of what to do if A: this results in no one winning at all, and B: what happens if "none of the above" wins directly.

  • Aug 19th, 2017 @ 4:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That line is in one of two places:

    * The same place as the line which convinces the "base" which got Trump elected and is still (in some politically-relevant sense) loyal to him to not merely turn against him, but do so in a way which is clearly visible to Republicans in Congress.

    * The same place as the line which convinces Republicans in Congress that they can continue to be re-elected without the support of that "base".

    The former line appears to be getting closer (which in turn may be bringing the latter closer), but judging from the rate of change of poll numbers, both are still a long way off.

    Of course, impeachment could still happen without crossing either of those lines; all that would need to happen is for Congress to get turned over to a non-Republican majority. Unfortunately, by demographics and gerrymandering, that seems a highly unlikely prospect this next midterm election year.

  • Aug 18th, 2017 @ 1:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Great Story

    I think your math is wrong. 10/7 is a ~43% increase; (10/7)*0.44 is a ~37% decrease (vs. the original total revenue). That doesn't sound like "pretty much covers" to me.

    To look at some of the numbers here in a bit more detail:

    100 customers at $7.21 per customer results in total revenue of $721.

    If 56% of those customers stop paying, that leaves you with 44%, or 440 remaining customers.

    To make $721 in revenue from 44 customers, you'd need to charge them each $16.39. That's a price increase of over 2.25x.

    How many of those 44 will decide that the increased price isn't worth it, and drop the subscription?

    Of course, for every one who does that, you need to increase the price on the remaining subscribers even more if you're going to retain the same revenue.

  • Aug 18th, 2017 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: At the heart of Techdirt there is a lie

    ...your writings are starting to remind me a little bit of the ramblings of SpectateSwamp.

    Only I think he was even less coherent, and even less able to remain on topic.

  • Aug 18th, 2017 @ 10:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: try again

    I think it's more likely that he:

    • Did the conversion.
    • Saw that 180Mbps was significantly higher than the speeds he could get from the ISPs in his own market, and that he remembered seeing advertised in general.
    • Assumed that a foreign country not on the list of known well-off, major-world-player countries would obviously have worse speeds than he could get in the US.
    • Concluded that the transfer must have been across a faster network than the Internet.

    The first critical error lies in the second (or possibly second-and-a-halfth) step: either assuming that the speeds available to him are representative, or failing to check the speeds being advertised more generally, even in the USA. (Because trans-180Mbps services are certainly available, even here. Look at all those gigabit-fiber-service projects that get so much news attention, however illusionary they sometimes turn out to be; for that matter, I'm pretty sure I've seen a 300Mbps service advertised by one of the big-name providers.)

    Even better would have been actually checking the speeds advertised by providers in Romania, but I'm not sure whether that would be practical for someone who doesn't know the local language, and by sheer statistical probability the "expert" in question probably didn't.

  • Aug 16th, 2017 @ 7:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Where do you see any profanity in his post?

    All I see is one mild instance of vulgarity; I don't see any terms relating to contempt for sacred things.

  • Aug 15th, 2017 @ 6:21am

    Re: Sin is unbelief…

    Actually, if you look at the history of it, "sin" is "missing the mark" - essentially, focusing your attention and energy on the wrong thing(s), whether from lack of willpower or from lack of self-discipline or simply from misunderstanding what the "target" is supposed to be. The word comes from an archery term, used to refer to not hitting the target you're aiming for.

  • Aug 11th, 2017 @ 2:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not quite...

    Here's the fun part: "conservative =/= "right wing," no matter how much they insist it does. "Conservative" means "maintaining the status quo." Basically, we value tradition, don't like change, and tend towards pragmatism.

    I describe myself, when the occasion arises for it, as "a conservative liberal".

    I am temperamentally conservative: as a baseline default, I am disinclined to take chances, and I favor shoring up the place where I stand before reaching out to take a step into less established territory.

    But I am not a conservative, or indeed at all politically conservative, at least in the way that term is currently used; in the modern conservative-vs.-liberal parlance, I am more liberal than any US politician I know of, even including Bernie Sanders.

    basically the liberals are all about personal freedom and they swing from left to right depending on whose job you think it is to provide social services.

    While this may be an accurate representation of the political range which is called "liberal", I suspect that it is not what the term originally meant.

    I came to a realization a while back, in considering a rarely-asked question: how did the terms "conservative" and "liberal" come to be applied to the major political factions?

    If you start with "conservative", you could easily be led to the idea that it started with "we don't want to risk change" / "we want to preserve the status quo", and then later developed into "we want to go back to the old status quo, since we've been for that set of policies for so long". But I don't think that's the correct explanation.

    If you look at the historical usages of the word "liberal" outside of a political context, you find that it crops up in phrases like "he spread butter liberally over his toast" and "he poured out the drinks with a liberal hand". The sense of the word here seems to be something like "unstinting".

    I suspect that what happened is that one group of people wanted to spend the community's available resources liberally, in an unstinting (or, to use a word with more negative connotations, spendthrift) fashion, for the benefit of society - and that the policies which would do that came to be called "liberal".

    And then another group of people said "If we spend our resources now, we won't have them in the future when we might really need them. Instead of spending them, we should conserve them - husband them against future need." - and the policies corresponding to that restraint came to be called "conservative".

    And then, of course, both factions developed in directions that don't necessarily match up with the descriptions of those original policies - but the labels stuck.

    Even today, a lot of the stated policies of the two factions seem to match up relatively well with this origin; for example, the idea of the (presumed liberal) Democrats as the ones who want lots of government spending and taxes to match, and of the (presumed conservative) Republicans as the party of fiscal responsibility even at the cost of individual hardship.

    (Neither of which is a really good representation of the truth, of course, but that's another discussion.)

  • Aug 11th, 2017 @ 8:58am

    Re: Subscription services should be ad-free

    I dropped the XM subscription which came with my car because I got tired of the incessant ad segments - not commercials, advertising some product available in the for-pay market, but brief snippets advertising *the same radio station I was already listening to*.

    Admittedly, these ads were clever and topical enough to be amusing the first time or three I heard each one - but there were only so many different ones per station (and I only cared for a handful of stations), and they played about one such ad for every two or three songs, so the repertoire quickly became stale.

  • Aug 9th, 2017 @ 8:42am

    Re: Amusingly? You didn't get the memo?

    To be fair, it's possible to see what they mean by this.

    The claim is that by splitting out this part of the cost into a separate line item, rather than lumping it together with other costs into a single big number, they are being transparent about where the money the customer is being charged goes.

    Where it becomes disingenuous is placing this separate line item "below the line", so that it ends up being on top of the advertised price, rather than having all such universally-applicable items be enumerated "above the line" and then summed up into the advertised price.

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