nerd bert 's Techdirt Comments

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  • Six More J20 Protest Prosecutions Dismissed As Gov't Admits To Hiding Exculpatory Evidence From Defendants

    nerd bert ( profile ), 01 Jun, 2018 @ 08:37am


    When you politicize "Justice" to serve your partisan agenda, you get things like this. We've been seeing increasing politicization in recent years, and now it's just seen as the norm in that department to serve the current master. The question is how we get back to a bureaucracy that actually is non-partisan. Perhaps a first step is to prevent partisan appointees from "burrowing-in" to various departments at the end of each administration. Right now it's very typical for political appointees to become allegedly unbiased administrators at the end of each administration. Preventing that would certainly defuse things like Lois Lerner's IRS behavior and the crap storm that raised. Of course, routinely punishing Brady violators would be a huge deterrent if applied to prosecutors personally. It's actually quite disturbing that judges aren't more willing to slap down prosecutors for such a basic violation of Constitutional rights.

  • Chicago Wins 'Most Corrupt City' Award Due In No Small Part To Its Awful Redlight Camera System

    nerd bert ( profile ), 23 May, 2018 @ 11:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Chicago, the joke that tells itself

    Not quite true. You'll note that the convictions were based on Federal investigations, not state/city investigations. The city itself is quite corrupt, it's just that there is an entity outside the city and state that managed to get a conviction. This whole situation makes me ask if Reynolds v. Sims wasn't wrongly decided. If downstate Illinois had adequate representation in the state Senate perhaps Illinois might be able to police the corruption in Chicago. As it stands now, Chicago calls the shots at the state level and Chicago power brokers can deflect any investigation that they find inconvenient.

  • President Trump Thinks Basic Phone Security Is Simply Too Inconvenient

    nerd bert ( profile ), 23 May, 2018 @ 07:00am

    Re: Nice priorities there

    I'm not terribly concerned about Trump's use of an unsecured phone dedicated to Twitter use. That stuff is way too public for his own good anyway. Heck, having Putin write his tweets for him would probably only help his popularity with his base.

    And this is just hilarious. 'Hey, so I know having foreign governments listening in to your calls may not be a big deal to you, but that same flaw allow US intelligence to listen in too if they care to'.
    As funny as that sounds, it's a far more consequential issue. If, as been alleged, US intelligence is caught as politically corrupt and serving just one master there will be a far, far larger crisis of confidence in government and very deep damage to our political system. I say caught only because the instances that have come before have been minimized by bipartisan agreement. Trump and his supporters are no fans of the established order and I doubt they'll be willing to give the intelligence community cover to escape the community's corruption. And a victory by Trump over the IC after an attack by the IC would give him the ability to reform the IC, which I doubt many folks will like on either side of the aisle.

  • Kim Dotcom Wins Human Rights Tribunal Case Over Kiwi Government Withholding Info

    nerd bert ( profile ), 26 Mar, 2018 @ 06:51am

    Malice vs. Incompetence

    Either way, the book of examples of just how incredibly the New Zealand government has fucked up everything about this case at every single turn has now added yet another chapter.

    Normally you should never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence.

    This is not a normal case and I think we can rule out incompetence.

  • Photographer Tutorial Company Reacts To Pirates By Screwing With Them Hilariously

    nerd bert ( profile ), 21 Mar, 2018 @ 07:20am


    A striking example of the Streisand effect in action. I'd never heard of Fstoppers before, yet now I have. I'd say that they've done a fantastic job of advertising themselves and their wares to a group of techno-nerds who never would have heard of them otherwise.

  • FBI Director Says It's 'Not Impossible' To Create Compromised Encryption That's Still Secure

    nerd bert ( profile ), 09 Mar, 2018 @ 08:02am


    I think you're wrong on the age thing. The FBI are teenagers. They want what they want, now, without working for it because they're special. And by the way, you geeks can provide it because of your magical abilities, and the fact that you won't is because you hate us! Christ, what an asshole. Nice, 4 word summary of the entire article. Should have been the title.

  • Anti-NRA Censorship Efforts Echo Earlier Pro-NRA Censorship Efforts, And Learn No Lessons From Them

    nerd bert ( profile ), 01 Mar, 2018 @ 11:54pm

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

    Ah, Politifact. Nice unbiased source, and I love the quote in your first link: "The Second Amendment is fading as a wedge issue in American politics" is pretty laughable, is it not? I know of only one other issue that seems to divide folks as starkly and that's abortion. Both guns and abortion are pretty stark, defining wedge issues. Then there is the claim in the article that "The Democrats have avoided all gun control controversies assiduously." That's quite the howler, itself. Overall, your first link really doesn't support your supposition, especially in the context of our present discussion on political parties. On the first point, the NRA mailer in question made an assumption without support and applied that to Obama, but the article didn't note that the Kennedy bill would have banned even common deer rounds such as the 30-30 due to the standard to which the ammunition would be tested. So the NRA's perceived threat existed; they attributed it to the wrong person, Obama, rather than Kennedy, but they got the political party right. On the second point, Sunstein's comments were true made, and he only walked them back when he had to do so politically to get appointed, and even Politifact had agree. And on the third point, the NRA was factual. In essence, if not in strict literal truth, the NRA actually was correct about the Democratic party in general, but not about Obama's personal involvement in the rifle ammunition ban in particular. So we can't believe what Diane Finestein said on tape? Remember, what are called "assault rifles" are really just semi-automatic rifles. They are no different than the majority of hunting rifles except that they look more like military rifles, and there are proposals that would effectively ban semiautomatic rifles. In reality, the vast majority of guns sold are semiautomatics, so a ban on semiautomatics is essentially a ban on the vast majority of guns. This is especially true with handguns, so Politifact's parsing of what Feinstein said is one of those 3 Pinocchio type arguments: technically it's not all guns, but it's the vast majority. As for Australia and Obama's admiration of their laws, the restrictions are draconian: you need what they call a "genuine reason" to own a gun, and self-defense isn't a genuine reason. The vast majority of guns were confiscated in Australia under their laws, so support for their system is effectively support for gun registration and confiscation of the vast majority of guns in America. And then there's this little tidbit: according to YouGov, 82% of Democrats support banning all semiautomatic weapons, and 50% want to ban all guns. That's sort of the NRA's whole point in their propaganda, isn't it? So no, I still don't suspect that the NRA is fearmongering or lying any more or any less than Planned Parenthood. Both are fighting even the slightest infringement of what they view as basic rights in highly polarized environments, often in the face of political parties who are extremely opposed to them.

  • Anti-NRA Censorship Efforts Echo Earlier Pro-NRA Censorship Efforts, And Learn No Lessons From Them

    nerd bert ( profile ), 01 Mar, 2018 @ 09:22am

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

    Can I ask you to support the idea that the NRA is lying to its members? Not to support the NRA, but may I point out that various politicians such as Diane Finestein (a concealed weapons permit holder herself) have explicitely called for banning all guns?, we have Barak Obama praising Australia's gun laws that lead to gun confiscation, or Ted Duetch wanting to ban all semiautomatic guns? To say that the NRA is lying to its members that various politicians want to ban their guns is itself a lie, at least if we listen to the words above. There are a fair number of them out there who would do so given the chance, and they've been fairly frank about their desire to do so. I suspect that the NRA might be cherry picking the instances, but I wouldn't know since I don't follow them. The above 3 links were quick Google searches and just the top results. I suspect that more determined Google-fu would return a far greater number of results.

  • Anti-NRA Censorship Efforts Echo Earlier Pro-NRA Censorship Efforts, And Learn No Lessons From Them

    nerd bert ( profile ), 28 Feb, 2018 @ 07:33am

    Re: Re: 20 people killed in knife attack

  • Anti-NRA Censorship Efforts Echo Earlier Pro-NRA Censorship Efforts, And Learn No Lessons From Them

    nerd bert ( profile ), 28 Feb, 2018 @ 07:23am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You might consider why the NRA wields outsized influence in Congress and it's not money. The NRA is barely in the top 10 of political contributions, and Bloomberg alone dwarfs them regularly, and yet the NRA still wins. By money alone, teachers and public workers unions should be running the country if monetary contributions were the sole factor determining elections. Yet the NRA is considered a powerhouse. Why might that be? Because when they speak their 4-5 million members listen (something like that number, I don't follow them much), as do a much larger number of non-members. The NRA speaks to a fair chunk of the population it seems. You want to neuter the NRA? You'll have to change public opinion as to the reliability of the government to do the right thing, which is where this push for censoring the NRA's message comes in. I'd prefer robust disagreement, but it's frankly easier to demonize the other side to marginalize their message and that's what's being attempted in this case.

  • Anti-NRA Censorship Efforts Echo Earlier Pro-NRA Censorship Efforts, And Learn No Lessons From Them

    nerd bert ( profile ), 28 Feb, 2018 @ 06:49am


    NBC being afraid of the NRA in '73 seems ... unlikely. I'm wondering if there was something else going on inside NBC that Rowan either didn't know or didn't understand. The NRA has a long and varied history. In the early 70s it was a much more apolitical organization run by genteel folks who even endorsed the GCA of '68, and really didn't participate much in politics. In those days the NRA focused more on marksmanship programs and the Boy Scouts. It wasn't until the Cincinnati Revolt of '77 that folks turned the NRA into a more politically active organization. And I might point out that the NRA isn't really a Republican organization. It's a gun rights organization, and even a decade ago it endorsed about 25% of Democrats in various races (including my "Blue Dog" Representative). The parties have been sorting out much more strongly on some pretty basic issues in the last 20 years, and the the shift in the Democratic Party to more urban viewpoints has reduced the number of Democrats who meet the NRA's loose standard for endorsement (more supportive of gun rights than your opponent).

  • ESPN Joins List Of Companies Enforcing Stringent Social Media Policies, Which Is Both Bad And Stupid

    nerd bert ( profile ), 07 Nov, 2017 @ 09:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Way off base

    Actually, they are paid to say things, and often on social media to promote their work and the company they work for. That's why so much of this whole thing is problematic: these folks are the public face of their companies, and if they're out there speaking it can be difficult to decide if they're speaking as a representative of their employer or as themselves.

    Look at Trump. When he tweets is it personal opinion or the policy of the US government? If it's policy, Hillary would be under investigation or locked away, so it's probably some mixture of both. But in any case, he's creating a very confusing situation with his social media interaction, one that anyone interacting with the public would be wise to avoid and that's what these companies want.

    So I don't disfavor these policies much as a general rule. Think of this as a career protection mechanism for these folks. They say something stupid enough and they'll hurt the company and they're essentially unemployable anywhere because they're so often facing the public.

  • With Denuvo Broken, Ubisoft Doubles Up On DRM for Assasin's Creed Origin, Tanking Everyone's Computers

    nerd bert ( profile ), 02 Nov, 2017 @ 10:15am


    Interestingly, most publishers have gone to less oppressive DRM schemes and have learned to accept some "losses" from piracy over the years. Back in the day, I spent more on a Lattice C compiler than I did my car, but publishers learned that by cutting the price they actually made more money so things changed. Game makers haven't changed, however. Yes, their target demographic generally tends to have less money to spend so they're more likely to pirate to play. Still, the fact that their content plays much more poorly with DRM installed drives ever more of their customers to pirate solutions. I know that I would be tempted to go that route if I were a young gamer these days just because the DRM sucks and causes more problems than it's worth. Being an old fart, however, I don't need to play the latest games this very second to have cred with other gamers. I can wait until both the price comes down and the DRM goes away, so I do.

  • Dead People Mysteriously Support The FCC's Attack On Net Neutrality

    nerd bert ( profile ), 02 Nov, 2017 @ 09:47am

    Re: Re: Shocking

    The idea that dead folks vote is particularly associated with races in Chicago (not without reason, I might add), and that vote is controlled/delivered by Democratic bosses. It predates the JFK election and has been a constant political meme for longer than I've been alive. So yes, you are a humorless scold and your reaction shows the dire need for irony and sarcasm tags in html. This meme was the first thing I thought of when I saw the headline.

  • Denuvo Game Cracked In Mere Hours

    nerd bert ( profile ), 03 Oct, 2017 @ 09:29am

    Mixed feelings

    DRM is bad for consumers and the consumer/vendor relationship, so losing it wouldn't hurt my feelings in the least.

    What I'm worried about, however, is that it's much more likely that the industry will transition to on-line only games as a "fix."

  • Alt-Right Twitter App Developers Sue Google After Gab.Ai App Is Kicked Out Of The Play Store

    nerd bert ( profile ), 21 Sep, 2017 @ 06:54am

    Re: Re: Re: open and shut case

    The average smartphone user doesn't change the ring tone, much less go in and mess with security settings. And when Google makes sideloading a two step procedure and tells them that it's dangerous to sideload, well...

    The only part of the complaint that really stands a chance is the fact that Google has effectively made the Play Store the only way to get apps for the vast majority of people. Forcing the sideloading of apps effectively bans them from 99+% of the market, and that's where Google's anticompetitive/monopolistic risk lies.

  • FDA, Homeland Security Issue First Ever Recall, Warnings About Flimsy Pacemaker Security

    nerd bert ( profile ), 01 Sep, 2017 @ 10:10am

    Culture change required

    I'm a hardware guy, and while I've not worked for St. Jude personally I've know many who worked there, at Medtronic, etc. In fact, the guy across the aisle is a veteran of those companies.

    The problem at places like Medtronic is more cultural than anything. Medtronic is referred to internally as "The Country Club" for good reason: it's a relatively slow moving tech company dominated by doctors and bureaucratic management. Now in general, that's a good thing since your average techie is a little too willing to cut corners on verification than I'd like in a medical device, but it does lead to technological blind spots like in this case.

    Trying to get a doctor interested in something that's this esoteric and out of their sphere of knowledge as just about impossible. Doctors tend to be pretty dictatorial and when they don't understand something like a tech issue, they just tend to ignore it as you can see from all the lax to non-existent security in just about all medical devices. In fact, one of the biggest complaints I've heard from the guys who worked in biomed companies is that it's just about impossible for techies to get any input into serious decision or product specification. It makes it rather frustrating for techies in biomed companies who recognize real issues and yet get completely ignored and shut down. The fact biomed pays more poorly, equips its engineers with poor tools, and generally gives them little input into how things could be done isn't a package that leads to excellence in the engineering staff overall. Although I know some very good engineers who work in biomed, they aren't there for the pay or working conditions.

    Most of these medical companies need to find a better way to balance the inputs of doctors and engineers. Right now there's really no balance inside the companies.

  • NPR Gives Up On News Comments; After All, Who Cares What Your Customers Have To Say?

    nerd bert ( profile ), 30 Aug, 2017 @ 10:08am

    Re: Don't kid yourself.

    I personally find it funny how many people acknowledge that coverage of the fields they know intimately by journalists in most major media tends to be rubbish and yet they still trust journalists in fields they don't know well. (Shorter version: journalists these days are the kids who couldn't cut the requirements for an English degree.)

    And as for politics, I've personally given up on any hope of objective, honest coverage of either side. Jon Snow, the English broadcaster, gave the best statement I've seen: "Good evening. I know nothing. We the media, the pundits, know nothing. We simply didn’t spot it.” The media exist in their own bubble, with a political orientation that is nearly 3-sigma away from the country overall. Expecting them to pick up the patterns of the bulk of the country when they're so far apart from it is just expecting too much of them.

  • The MPAA Narrative About Piracy Flips To Danger From Pirate Sites Now That It Has Lost The Moral Argument

    nerd bert ( profile ), 17 Aug, 2017 @ 08:42am


    The MPAA/Hollywood have failed at making a moral argument? Excuse me, I must have misplaced my shocked face somewhere around here.

    After all, we're talking about organizations have misled the courts about what they were doing to track down "pirates", have consistently lied to consumers about things like backing up the content they've purchased, and have gleefully attempted to abuse consumers at every point they could (how many of you wanted to avoid the preview adverts at the start of your DVDs only to find that Hollywood did all it could to make sure you couldn't?), etc. And yet the public couldn't see past all that to see how righteous the argument they've been making really IS?! How unenlightened of the hoi polloi!

    Yeah, so absent honeypot sites attempting to make Hollywood's point I doubt anything has changed with the MPAA's new tack.

  • The Snopes Fight Is Even Way More Complicated Than We Originally Explained

    nerd bert ( profile ), 16 Aug, 2017 @ 08:50am


    At a bare minimum Green should have sought a lawyer when he looked at the loan agreement and realized he was signing away his financial future. Why he stuck around with that group of folks as long as he did is a real puzzle. There were fewer red flags at Soviet May Day parades than there were at Proper Media.

    Programmers think they're smart, which is much of the problem. Sure, in general they've got the logical reasoning down fairly well, but they're not prepared for the real world in which systems have much more complicated, illogical rules and hidden variables to which they don't have access. And they're especially vulnerable to sharp business practices, as one of my cousins found out to his detriment when he set up his consulting company with some other programmers who were smart programmers, but less than ethical business folks.

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