James Burkhardt’s Techdirt Profile


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  • Aug 17th, 2020 @ 9:46pm

    Re: The bell curve claims another victim

    always click preview....
    It’s one of the strangest assumptions in academic statistics

  • Aug 17th, 2020 @ 9:45pm

    The bell curve claims another victim

    One of the strangest assumptions in statistics is that results are distributed in a bell curve. It’s doomed many a racist trying to prove the stupidity of blacks, and today it dooms those trying to justify classist policies.

  • Aug 11th, 2020 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Format

    Except that Excel will drop that choice whenever possible.

    I am an accountant. I use .csv files to upload large transactions into my accounting software, and requires very specific formatting to acomplish.

    Notably I need to not use the 'date' format in excel which stores the date as a number instead of the actual mm/dd/yy formatting, and I needed leading zeros without any puncutation in one column.

    If I used plain text and saved my CSV file, excel would helpfully save space by removing very critical leading zeros. If I loaded the file, it would strip the dates out of the file and force them into date format. It fought me. I have since switched to Libre office which gives me the option to set formatting before i load a file, and will accept leading zeros being saved to CSV format.

    Its an issue with any data set saved as a CSV or other file type that doesn't carry format. Its most critical with large data sets that benefit in size from a lack of formatting. Excel auto format on load kills many of its best uses for me. Just formatting the sheet once doesn't help plain data files like CSV when excel gets its hands on it. All it takes is one intern opening the file and autosave catching the changes for you to lose lots of data.

    Its a toggle, Microsoft. a free software company has better CSV auto-format code then you. Get it together.

  • Jul 17th, 2020 @ 12:03pm

    (untitled comment) (as )

    The judge's order recognizing the letter sent by Craig states Craig also submitted evidence of his claims, but those would be recognized under seal to protect attorney client privilege. So not only has Liebowitiz violated the privilege the court explicitly retained for the client, but there is likely contradictory evidence the public has not seen. And given Liebowitz's history of lies, and that the final message is the only proof that Craig was aware of a lawsuit, rather than say a cease and desist, I'm loathe to grant this any weight.

  • Jun 30th, 2020 @ 11:40am

    Re: Foregone conclusion

    You can prove a document with information on X exists. You can't necessarily prove the detailed contents of that document.

    I think it should go. They should have to get a locksmith to crack it. But the ability to prove a document's existence is wholly separate from proving the document's detailed contents.

  • Jun 30th, 2020 @ 11:37am

    (untitled comment)

    I think the best/scariest parts of this ruling have nothing to do with the cell phone aspect but rather highlight 2 problems in the legal system. One is specific, the way the standards on the forgone conclusion doctrine slipped. Prosecutors admit they didn't know what they were looking for and they didn't know if what they were looking for was on the phone. As the court highlights, that definitionally can't be a forgone conclusion. But lower courts have accepted that reasoning. This is legal creep in action - and it shows the same issues with qualified immunity. The FCD (Forgone Conclusion Doctrine) is a creation of fourth and fifth amendment jurisprudence. If the criminal investigators can show that documents exist and that those documents exist in a secure location and we can prove that access is controlled by a specific individual, then forcing access to the secure location is not considered testimonial and the documents are left to speak for themselves. But that logic is traditionally, as the court highlighted, self limiting in scope. Literally, the safe can only be so big. And as the court noted, the more unknown documents that probably exist, the greater the burden on the 4th and 5th amendments. Not only does this decision severely limit the doctrine for cell phones, it also highlights the way prosecutors have been lowering the standards for years.

    But it more broadly highlights the willingness of judges to rubber stamp fishing expeditions. The prosecutor admitted he was fishing, and it took the state supreme court to rule that the forgone conclusion was bunk on its face. The appeals court noted the issues with scope, it took the state supreme court to note that it shouldn't have even gotten that far. Most defendants would not have the resources to appeal that far.

  • Jun 16th, 2020 @ 8:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Call on health system versus smoking... (as )

    Fun note: if you end the war on drugs, it doesn’t mean you stop caring about the effects of drugs on society. we just don’t need a military to do it. Drug addiction is a symptom of bad circumstances. focus on rehab, improve life curcumstances, and drug users tend to kick the habit in much higher numbers then when the focus is on criminal penalties.

  • Jun 15th, 2020 @ 11:17am

    (untitled comment) (as )

    correct me if i’m wrong but if the claims against twitter are thus:

    He pointed to a procedural issue involving the company’s failure to respond to numerous offenses Nunes alleges the company committed, ranging from shadow banning conservatives to acts of illegal defamation.

    Then why is Devin Nunes’ Ciw adjoined to this lawsuit? I would think that the Cow would face a different fact pattern to defamation performed by twitter, and the cow can’t be responsible for shadow banning anyone. Under what legal theory does the court believe Twitter would be liable for shadow banning? Wouldn’t that fall under the Sec 230 allowances for moderating as they see fit?

  • Jun 11th, 2020 @ 8:43am

    Re: Why not Disney? (as )

    Subjecting Disney+ to data caps is the concern. And I have seen no evidence Disney+ is exempted from data caps. Most people are just always on Wi-fi since the launch, because for some reason people aren't out and about right now, so AT&T's mobile data caps haven't been a concern. Some thing about a pandemic or something.

  • Jun 9th, 2020 @ 12:21pm

    Re: Targeted Destruction (as )

    In a system that values property greater than lives and and looks at the value of lives almost exclusively in terms of their economic productivity, the destruction of property is a powerful message. It motivates business and property owners to call for change when they would otherwise ignore the issues. And, most importantly, it works, as history shows. Its the only thing that works.

  • May 26th, 2020 @ 9:44pm

    Re: Re: (as )

    So you explicitly Are requesting twitter cease enforcing the harassment clause within the TOS? Or That the clauses unenforceable? Could you cite statute or case law on that?

  • May 20th, 2020 @ 6:07pm

    Re: RE: "buying prop ads to harvest the data" (as )

    But that isn’t facebook selling your data. What they sold was a promise to display an ad to a random person that matches targeted categories. If you, the advertiser, use that purchase to harvest aggregate data and then combine that data set with other separate data sets to identify specific individuals, that isn’t facebook selling user’s data. It not what rules against sellibg personally identifying info are designed to prevent, because facebook can’t prevent you from tracking data from people who click through your own ad.

  • May 20th, 2020 @ 4:05pm

    Re: You do know aggregate data can be tracked... (as )

    I have to assume you misunderstand the premise.

    If you want to place an ad for a 25-45 male with a CIS interest, you go to face book and put in those parameters in an ad buy, and facebook places those ads. No data is going back to you in that transaction

    If you are separately aggregating data on people coming to your site and cross referencing that data with aggregate data from other ad buyers to identify users, you collected that data. You didn’t buy it from facebook. Don’t hide your shitty practices of buying prop ads to harvest the data of customers coming to your website as facebook selling the data.

  • May 15th, 2020 @ 12:41pm


    Part of his argument is that twitter, in reaction to the lawsuit, contacted him to determine if he was represented by council, and therefore he should be paid 25 MIllion because....twitter wanted to serve him with a motion as required by law?

    Ignoring the strange conclusion, the rules of court require opposing attorneys to contact each other, rather than clients. Twitter sounds like they were making sure he was in fact not represented by council before serving him personally with legal documents as the court requires.

    The Plaintiffs assertions that Twitter following the rules was a result of twitter acting in bad faith suggest that perhaps the plaintiff's other claims of bad faith on the part of twitter are not, indeed, bad faith, but rather twitter following the rules it has set out, rules the plaintiff had agreed to and then ignored. A lack of pleading of fact on the issue of bad faith action supports this conclusion, and plaintiffs further claims that content was not a factor in his ban, but rather his underlying beliefs, also supports this conclusion.

  • May 5th, 2020 @ 10:37pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You are right, I drew a wider conclusion then you were making. i was talking about hardware communications protocols, not software. And the Bluetooth standard isn't a free standard. But it is an open one. My point being that since the HRM used an open communications standard, and app-neutral communications existed in the target market, there was no reason the HRM had to fail when a specific vendor stopped offering their app. I was drawing a similar philisophical point, and apologize for conflating it with yours.

    Free software has been discussed in these pages before. And again, Mike's protocols not platforms approach covers exactly what you are saying. I know mike has argued for a broader philisophical platform than the focus on software, and I think he has effectively argued for the libre software solution even if he doesn't say the words because he is focused on broader approaches than just fix software. I've gotten the impression that he doesn't like software being under either copyright or patent. And during DMCA anti-circumvention discussions, the way proprietary software prevents you from owning the hardware is at the forefront. He is arguing for libre software, but perhaps not using those words, since they tie to a specific policy proposal. Mike seems to try to avoid specific policy proposals, generally talking in broader questions of goals and the way to move toward them, but let actual policy makers iron out policy. And really, Coming to the comments and saying "hey, you know, if these vendors used libre software it wouldn't matter!" its the most no shit sherlock kind of answer.

    Given the Free software foundation has come up a number of times in techdirt hsitory, and the seeming longevity of techdirt's audiance, its not fair to believe people don't know who they are. We defend the concept against trolls on a regular basis as their failure to understand it is a common basis of attack.

    Moreover, your original post didn't serve to introduce the concept to the audiance, only to say that the concept exists. You aren't going into either the nature or the ideology. So its a weird hill to die on that nobody is talking about it, since you really aren't either.

  • May 5th, 2020 @ 5:18pm


    I have. Right here just because you haven't seen the suggestion, doesn't mean it hasn't happened.

    I admittedly don't remember if Techdirt has thrown up that flag specifically before. But it is the natural answer of how to build a internet enabled device without lock-in. Its also a natural extension of the [protocols not platforms solution(https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20190825/21540442853/protocols-not-platforms-technologica l-approach-to-free-speech.shtml) Mike has been suggestiong for social media. Heck, several years ago Techdirt did an article on the way cloud storage failed to live up to its premise where Mike explicitly argues that cloud storage should have been about individually opwned cloud buckets linking into interoperable cloud services rather than proprietary services.

    I think you just aren't reading. Techdirt may never have suggested it for this specific situation, but its a clean extension of everything they argue for.

  • Apr 28th, 2020 @ 11:51am


    You've missed the forest for the trees there my friend.

    As used in this article, Landlord is being used to describe a property owner who extracts passive rents from the use of their property. This can, as you point out, describe most ways of extracting passive rents even when we aren't discussing land. But in the US landlords aren't nobility either, but we still call them landlords. In the same way, a property management company could be called property rental service, like a car rental service, but we've made artificial distinctions between the passive income generated by the exploitation of land versus transportation. Income generated by exploiting the use of property are described as rents.

    The rhetorical point of calling them landlords is that while copyright holders claim they own property, they generally ascribe what they own as the content, rather than the rights to exploit the content. And when you describe income derived from those rights as rents and the holder as a landlord, you cast the lie to the claim that what they own is the content rather than the right to exploit the content in specific ways. Active Income is not generated from the content itself or its copyrights, but into the utilization of the content. Copyrights provide a passive rent income, taxing those who wish to utilize the content. The point of calling them landlords is not to suggest they are nobility who owns land, but to suggest they are rent seeking - having secured or developed some content (land) they now looking for rents for its use, rather than exploit the work directly.

  • Apr 22nd, 2020 @ 10:44am

    Re: Re:

    Libertarians, while they hold a distinct political view, are quite small overall, and are most prominent as a wing of the Republican party, with libertarian thought pervading the Party and its politics. The Debates around the Obamacare repeal, specifically the difficulty reaching a republican consensus highlight the veins of libertarian thought.

    More importantly, the article is about Richard Epstein, who is obstensibly libertarian. The arguemnets he is making are obstensibly libertarian. The AC was not speaking incorrectly.

  • Mar 9th, 2020 @ 10:25am

    Re: (as )

    The quoted line has nothing to do with Trump's awareness of the suit. Trump's campaign is a legally distinct entity from Trump himself, and therefore if the lawsuit goes long enough for discovery, document requests to trump himself may be limited in scope. Not because Trump was unaware of the lawsuit, but because his exposure may be limited to his interactions with his 2016 campaign and his 2020 campaign. The contested statements specify Trump Campaign Officials, so the campaign is the aggrieved party, and Trump's documents relating to himself personally or communications with non-campaign officials probably aren't in the scope. We may even see issues with Trump's communications with campaign officials by non-campaign funded means. As much as we would hope that the courts would recognize that Trump's web of overlapping orgs represents a way to dodge discovery of communications, it may be effective. And even if it isn't, any such discovery would represent months if not years of litigation before they were settled.

  • Feb 27th, 2020 @ 1:44pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The alternative premise Mike draws is that the content of Buttigieg emails are crafted to appear as email users really want, but that Warren emails appear more 'promotional', as not-quite-spam, rather than providing special treatment to Buttigieg.

    There are a number of ways to demonstrate either that gmail is providing special treatment to Buttigieg or that contents of these emails is a factor. For instance, Sending the contents of an allowed Buttigieg campaign email and a promotional Warren Campaign email from generic corporate emails could produce data on if the contents was a factor over the FROM header.

    But Mike doesn't need to prove his thesis. He is only producing a reasonable alternative explanation. He is not saying "this is how it is". He is saying the conclusions drawn from The Markup are half baked. They have not proved the implication that Google has their finger on the scale any more than Mike has proven his case. And Mike's Alternative idea, that rather than a shadowy coder assigning political emails to different filters to benefit Pete Buttigieg the 2 younger candidates (Buttigeg and Yang) hired email marketers that understand how to get an email around Promotions makes a significant amount of sense. And if there are not hidden hands helping Buttigieg, it makes sense he has one of the highest SPAM rates.

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