mcherm’s Techdirt Profile


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  • Feb 10th, 2017 @ 8:26am

    Simple way to change Trump's position on Forfeiture

    All it would take is ONE brave law enforcement officer willing to end his/her career and we could easily flip Trump's position on this issue. If a single officer seized any property belonging to Mr. Trump himself I feel confident that the President would go on the warpath against asset forfeiture.

  • Oct 14th, 2016 @ 8:57am

    Re: Free speech will only apply to Trump speech?

    Anonymous Coward writes:

    > If I were Hillary I'd hammer on this in the next debate, and yes, include Melania.

    Remember Michelle Obama's words: "When they go low, we go high." At least we SHOULD.

    I don't care which party you support, surely everyone can agree that we need to step back from this insult-driven election.

  • Oct 7th, 2016 @ 11:36am

    The FBI isn't this stupid

    I think Mike Masnick is reading too much into the FBI's statement. Last time they tried this they made masterful use of public opinion: picking a terrorism case, one in which large numbers of Americans had been killed and there was a colorable (if not quite plausible) argument that the phone might lead to other terrorists.

    In this case they would be investigating police misconduct (a case guaranteed to put the public more on edge than, say, a terrorism case). The only people who would feel "threatened" by this case are those minorities who worry about getting shot by the police -- not the most supportive group. And there is no colorable argument that the victim's cell phone might lead to knowledge that would protect lives; at best it might help to exonerate the murderer.

    Furthermore, the previous case is still relatively fresh in the minds of citizens and legislators, including the resolution of that case (turned out the FBI was making a mountain out of a molehill, could resolve it without Apple's help, and that the phone didn't reveal any helpful information after all).

    I don't believe the FBI is foolish enough to press this case in court.

  • Sep 23rd, 2016 @ 8:39am

    And I just thought I'd leave this here...

    As long as we're talking about the decline and destruction of news sources due to lack of revenue, or because that revenue source wasn't ACTUALLY tied to producing the news, I thought I'd leave you all with this link:

  • Sep 20th, 2016 @ 12:22pm

    How I will use this law

    I, for one, am looking forward to this law.

    After all, the web page has for YEARS been mocking me. Many have said that the site has absolutely nothing to do with me, but in fact I am STRONGLY INSULTED by the subtle implications it makes about me (without actually naming me).

    None of my previous attempts to get the site shut down have gone anywhere, but now that we have a law which is driven by *my feelings of personal insult* (rather than some "objective" test like falsity or actually mentioning me by name) I should be able to force them to take the page down.

  • Sep 20th, 2016 @ 8:45am

    Re: Re: WP is treasonus

    > Waving another countries flag around on another countries soil in a protest is a legitimate act of war

    No it isn't. Shooting or bombing citizens as a political protest may be an act of war; waving a flag (any flag) is a form of speech, protected by the first amendment.

  • Sep 16th, 2016 @ 9:40am

    Where is Congress?

    Where is Congress in this? I know most everything is partisan in Washington these days, but regardless of whether you are for or against protecting those who sexually exploit young boys, surely the members of Congress realize that if people are retaliated against for providing information to members of Congress that there will be no one willing to share information with them.

    Congress should exercise it's constitutional duty of oversight and should use that to pressure and embarrass those members of the military leadership who allowed this persecution to take place. It should do so for the sake of its own power, even if they can think of no *other* reason.

  • Mar 22nd, 2016 @ 10:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Redundant question

    > The act of perjury is itself a crime.

    That much is true.

    > And, given that it's usually a prosecutor talking to the court, then it's the prosecutor who's perjuring [him/her]self, in talking about what the cops did.

    False. The prosecutor is NOT under oath, and cannot commit perjury. The prosecutor must call witnesses who will explain (under oath) to the judge and jury what happened. Police officers spend a not-negligible amount of their time testifying in court.

    > And that constitutes conspiracy after the fact.

    No, it doesn't. For one thing, prosecutors have a thing called "absolute immunity". It means that they can't be prosecuted (or sued) for doing their job (prosecuting cases in court), not even if they lie, cheat, and break every rule. There are a FEW specialized exceptions (but VERY few) and I seriously doubt that "conspiring with the police" would qualify.

    I'm not saying this is a GOOD thing, but it is how the US legal system works today.

  • Mar 18th, 2016 @ 4:04am

    Flip-Flop is Fine

    > You'll recall that AT&T fought tooth and nail against [..X..]. Now AT&T's trying to argue that it's that [..X..] means [..something in its favor..].

    That is a very reasonable and consistent position to take. One may believe that certain rules apply, but if they don't, then at least the other rules apply.

    (The part where they say that the other rules apply retroactively is an interesting and creative approach. I wonder whether they believe that the FTC's lack of jurisdiction in the past is paired with the FCC having jurisdiction over AT&T's past behavior. Somehow I doubt it.)

  • Nov 9th, 2015 @ 11:16am

    Astounding Hypocrisy from School Officials

    Somehow, in your article you failed to point out the other interesting hypocrisy that NY Times article described. They interviewed parents who said they had reported the rampant sexting to the schools and had been told "there is nothing we can do". To go directly from refusing to act to overreacting is rank incompetence.

  • May 10th, 2015 @ 7:04pm

    Re: Re: Who's the customer?

    The definition of "customer" can be a bit murky in some cases, but here the inmate (or her family) are the ones who PAY, while the prison are the ones who DECIDE whether or not JPay gets the business. The ones that JPay are most likely to work to keep happy are those who do the deciding -- the prison officials. It is not unlike medical insurance in the US, where (except for those on government programs) the employee is the supposed "customer" but it is the employer who actually DECIDES which insurance to purchase.

    All that being said, however, I don't see any indications that JPay is ignoring the well-being of prisoners and their families in the single-minded pursuit of pleasing prison officials. Even if it WOULD be in their best interest, I see much the opposite. I see JPay reacting with impressive speed after the issue was raised to their attention by the media, and changing their policy immediately. So perhaps the cynicism is unwarranted.

  • Feb 9th, 2015 @ 6:21am

    Re: "Torture Works"

    You wrote:

    "you'll still need to use torture in situations like the one just after 9/11.
    That's because torture works. It is indeed useless for extracting confessions (people will confess anything, that's true), but it has always worked quite well to extract informations."

    I wonder if you can provide any evidence to back up this claim? Because I have seen evidence that contradicts it... that suggests that torture does not work and does not help in such situations.

    For my first piece of evidence, here is a popular science article referencing an actual neurobiology study showing torture is not effective:

    F or my second piece of evidence, I present the conclusions of the Senate panel looking into the actual torture performed after 9/11 and whether that torture was effective. They concluded that in *every single case* it did not actually produce new, useful information. Again, a popular press report that summarizes and links to the actual story:

    Do you have anything more than mere feelings to support your claim? Because it is my belief that NOT ONLY are there grave moral issues with the use of torture, BUT ALSO its use does not actually help achieve the goals it is intended for. And IN ADDITION it normalizes the behavior thus encouraging groups like the "Islamic State" (aka. ISIS or ISIL) to engage in torture. If I am correct, and all this cost is for absolutely no benefit, then it is truly a great tragedy.

  • Oct 20th, 2014 @ 11:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Its called 'election'

    I happen to be my local "Judge of Elections" in Pennsylvania. (It's a relatively minor position that basically means person who runs the election in one voting district.)

    In Pennsylvania, each voter is permitted to enter a write-in vote for any office. So in theory your request is satisfied: voters can write in whoever they choose. But in practice, write-in candidates almost never account for any meaningful percentage of the vote. Voters simply will not choose to make the effort to do the write-in vote. I have even seen cases where a party failed (due to paperwork issues) to get a name on the ballot for a primary election. They had party members stand outside the polls handing out papers asking people to write in the name. With no one on the ballot and this sort of support, she still only managed a handful of votes (on the order of 4%).

    So allowing people to cast a "protest vote" for whoever they like is a nice idea in theory, but in practice it has no real effect on elections.

  • Oct 15th, 2014 @ 5:52am

    I'm not persuaded

    In general, I am quite concerned about overreach in trademark laws. However, I think this case actually has merit.

    Using common English words such as "easy", "it", and "take" are not violations of copyright, trademark, or right to publicity laws. Nor is referring to a shirt as a "Henley". A label encouraging a customer to "don" some piece of clothing is not a violation of the rights of some person named "Don".

    But putting on a label saying "DON A HENLEY and Take it easy" -- that may well be a violation of some or all of these. The law does not operate like some computer program which can only blindly apply it's unambiguously defined terms to each fact independently. Instead, the law is permitted to consider the actor's intent and the effect of their behaviors, and is permitted to use common sense in inferring these from the overall behavior. And it would be completely disingenuous to fail to notice that the label, taken as a whole, strongly suggests a certain person and a certain song.

    I haven't said that they Mr Henley ought to win this lawsuit -- that would require a judge, jury, and the full evidence from both sides. But one or more of the claims may well have merit so I don't think this case deserved the sort of opprobrium heaped on it in this article.

  • Oct 14th, 2014 @ 8:45am

    Open WIFI is like...

    Imagine the extensive day-to-day difficulties if our existing policy of "open electricity" were replaced with a regime where every time you brought a electric drill over to your friend's house to help put up a wall, you had to sign some sort of an indemnification form before plugging it in lest your friend be held responsible if you were to attack someone with the drill.

  • Oct 2nd, 2014 @ 9:42am

    How to spin this

    Perhaps we should follow the example of those who promote such software, and start to refer to Computer Cop as follows:

    This pedophile spyware app, which the San Diego District Attorney was duped into distributing to loving parents for installation on their children's computers, masquerades as a tool to protect children from predators. In actuality, it transmits keystrokes (including sensitive social media accounts and passwords) in the clear where they could be intercepted by a computer savvy predator and used to gather information or even to "groom" a potential victim.

    Of course, such a statement would be blatant fear-mongering. It is absolutely true that a pedophile could intercept the communications, but why should that, of all possible threats, be the one emphasized? One might very well ask the San Diego District Attorney the same question.

  • Sep 12th, 2014 @ 9:48am

    Re: Re: I am disappointed

    And thanks for reading my feedback. Hopefully we'll BOTH be more satisfied next time around!

  • Sep 11th, 2014 @ 6:43am

    I am disappointed

    Normally, TechDirt articles are fairly strong in science. This article bucks that trend. The key line is "some folks have actually made progress in using water (or saltwater) in an energy-generating system". This is supported by three articles:

    (1) An article about using nuclear power to split water, capturing carbon from the air and producing jet fuel. This is in no way an energy-generating system.

    (2) A link to a patent on an impossible (and non-functional) machine. Cute perhaps, but not science. Hundreds of patents have been granted for perpetual motion machines (before the patent office instituted a policy against it) and yet another one from 1935 isn't news and it certainly isn't science.

    (3) Generating electricity from Graphine. This one is at least SLIGHTLY related, but the power, in this case, comes from pushing the water across the graphine. We already have a method for producing electric power from MOVING water, it's called a turbine and it is used (mostly in dams) to generate significant amounts of electric power throughout the world. This is an advance in materials science, not in energy generation.

    Frankly, I am disappointed that the editors at TechDirt allowed this "article" through in this state. I normally expect better of them.

  • Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 1:35pm

    Last Minute Edits:

    Before releasing this:

    Paragraph 6: "violating the restaurant's "Internet/Blogging" which is an actual thing" should be "violating the restaurant's "Internet/Blogging policy" which is an actual thing"

    Final Paragraph: "Triple Play's internet police" should be "Triple Play's internet policy".

    (Then kindly delete this comment!)

  • Aug 25th, 2014 @ 2:36pm

    Button Press Too Hard? Try This One Easy Fix!

    Seriously, just record ALL audio and video for the entire time that the uniformed officer is on duty. The chips needed to store this weigh just a few grams. We could save the records for 1 week, with automatic holds on anything that the officer flags as important, as well as in response to any citizen complaint or request. Then there's no pesky button push to distract the officer ... or for the officer to forget.

    If you really think it is necessary, a button press to SUPPRESS the recording might be acceptable, for when an officer is using the restroom, intimidating a witness, or engaging in any other action requiring privacy.

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