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  • Aug 21st, 2019 @ 7:25pm

    Re: Re: Blame goes anywhere but here

    Even if we discount the failed War on Drugs due to its racial bias from inception, incarceration in general, as practiced in the US, hasn't worked well. Recidivism rates are high for a whole host of reasons - not least of which is how hard it is for ex-cons to get a job, which is usually a requirement of their parole. Prison sentences in the US are, at absolute best, a time out during which the criminal cannot commit crimes against other "law-abiding citizens" because they don't have access to them. More often, they are advanced and continuing education in how to commit crime. Our post-prison system of halfway houses and parole are just as flawed. Statistically, they do a terrible job re-integrating convicts who have served their time back into society at large.

  • May 25th, 2019 @ 5:30am


    Not that I'm defending civil asset forfeiture or the War on Drugs, but if you begin with the premise that the War on Drugs needs to be fought in the first place, their strategy makes a certain sense. There's been some legitimate academic research into the structure of drug dealing operations. If we look at them as businesses, the thing they most resemble are fast food chains. Arresting corner boys is like arresting the guy at the register at McDonalds. He'll be replaced in short order, and there's a never-ending stream of people to replace him. It doesn't hurt the McDonalds. Even if you arrest the guy at the top of local distribution, you've arrested the local branch manager or at best the regional manager. It stings more than the lowly dealer, but not much. Someone from within gets promoted and business continues. The actual CEO is not only outside your local jurisdiction, he's outside the US.

    However, if you seize a significant amount of their revenue, the local distributors can't pay their franchise fees back up the chain and may be unable to pay for further supplies. The problem here is two-fold. One, police are never successful at seizing that amount of the money, so instead of crippling the franchise, it's really just a local business tax. Two, even if they were successful, the corporation would just fire the local branch manager and start a new franchise in the same area.

    Of course, none of this changes that civil asset forfeiture is a violation of the Constitution, that the War on Drugs is a fool's errand, and that undoubtedly a lot of people get swept up and have their property seized that aren't connected to drug trafficking at all.

  • May 9th, 2019 @ 4:02am

    Re: Re:

    Do they have a bigger warchest than NBC Universal? Absolutely. Bigger than NBC + ABC + CBS? Probably. Bigger than all the TV production companies + movie production companies + music production companies + video game production companies + book/magazine production companies? Absolutely not.

  • May 6th, 2019 @ 11:17am

    Re: Re:

    I found out about this afterwards (shows you how long it's been since I left Facebook). That's a step in the right direction, but I doubt it's particularly successful long term, at least so long as Facebook continues to try to create a globally family/child friendly environment since there's no universally agreed upon definition for it.

  • May 6th, 2019 @ 10:39am

    (untitled comment)

    Which is, more or less, why large scale social media isn't likely to last and probably isn't good for us, or maybe we're not good enough for it. You can't cram a billion people from all over the world into one gigantic room (digital or otherwise) and not expect endless problems. It's why Reddit will probably outlast Facebook. If I don't like a specific topic, I don't ever go to the subreddit for it. Why would I? That, in turn, allows each subreddit to mostly moderate its much smaller userbase as it sees fit. They never have to try to make one size fits all content rules because they didn't cram a billion people in one big room. They made a bunch of rooms, let users make an endless supply of new rooms, and then let them wander freely between rooms. Meanwhile Facebook, by its very nature, can never escape the hunt for one size fits all, because it's just one big room.

  • Apr 20th, 2019 @ 4:39am

    Re: Re:

    I largely agree with you, but I think you just answered your own implied question of why this happens. Take this case, or 9/11 or some other awful terrorist act (whether foreign or domestic). In nearly every case, the perpetrator is unavailable for suit either because their dead or outside U.S. jurisdiction. The surviving family is grieving the senseless loss of a loved one and cannot get justice of any sort (precisely the sort of emotionally wrought situation in which we can expect people to lash out like injured wild animals). Someone comes along and says, "The people responsible for this should be made to pay," by which they mean monetarily, but the family hears that as a call to justice. Said someone convinces them that Twitter or Google or whoever provided material support for this act, and while the direct perpetrator is unavailable this other target is not. Said someone has a a license to practice law, documents proving they are expert in this field (which presumably the family is not) and so the suit is filed.

    We shouldn't be ashamed that grieving survivors lash out in an admittedly misguided pursuit of justice. We should be ashamed that the "professional" legal counsel that advised them to do this isn't slapped down and sanctioned for their horrendous legal advice, for keeping those wounds open even longer, all in the long-odds hopes of a big pay day.

  • Apr 19th, 2019 @ 4:17pm

    Re: Sue almost anyone else for almost anything

    Only ambulance chasers. The vast majority of lawyers either represent powerful/wealthy people/corporations (the exact people who would be targeted by these lawsuits) or more normal people on an as needed basis (the lawyers who write wills, handle divorces, etc).

    The number of lawyers who file large damage, contingency-fee cases like this are relatively small. They're just the ones who make the news (for all the wrong reasons) and give everyone else a bad name.

  • Apr 19th, 2019 @ 1:56pm

    Re: This isn't rocket science!

    If (and it's a huge if) you could argue that two smaller competitors out of four couldn't meaningfully compete with the two larger companies, then perhaps you could argue that by merging they would reach a size that would allow them to do so. In this specific case, I think that argument is laughable, as you said and historical evidence suggests that shrinking the number of competitors in the wireless market is just awful for everyone except maybe shareholders.

  • Apr 19th, 2019 @ 7:18am

    Re: 1stAmmending

    I think the more relevant question is, what good is a Supreme Court that repeatedly refuses to answer important constitutional questions. The top court has always had a reserved, cautious approach to what cases it hears, as it should, but for the last several decades we've seen that trend start to shift to something that looks a lot more like cowardice at times.

  • Apr 17th, 2019 @ 12:29pm


    I keep seeing this, and while I agree that effectively geo-fencing the EU is the likely result, I don't think we should call it a case, because it's a disaster in the making. I think it will happen because the vast bulk of the internet (by site count rather than userbase) won't have any choice but to do so, but it will be awful for the global economy and the health of the internet as a whole.

  • Mar 30th, 2019 @ 10:26am

    Re: What to advertise and to whom

    There are times and ways in which targeted ads make at least some sense (even if they are creepy). If I know that you just bought a bunch of diapers, and that based on specifically which diapers you bought I can reasonably assume you have a six month old - I can reasonably target you ads for bottles, bottle nipples, teething toys, children's books and videos, baby food, etc all based on a single purchase.

    That, as you note, is a far cry from reasonable ad targeting based on your web search history. Targeted ads make way more sense based on things linked to purchase history (things you've proven you're willing to spend money on) than interest history, and you can build reliable models about that sort of thing. For example, if I run a business that sells auto wax and car-washing accessories and the like, I initially target my adds at people who just bought a new car. Over time, it turns out, my ads are way more successful when targeted at people who bought new sports or luxury vehicles than economy cars or family SUVs, so I tweak my ad strategy to only target them. That's smart business, but sending you adds for auto wax because you googled images of an Aston Martin is insane. That's probably well more than half my money wasted.

  • Mar 29th, 2019 @ 4:24am

    Re: Really??

    That's a fair argument (or at least one fairer than in the article), but let's suppose I (a hypothetical bad actor) break into your home and steal your hypothetical Playstation 4. Most certainly illegal, and selling it would likewise be illegal, but I turn around and list it on E-bay. Now, E-bay likely has hundreds or thousands of PS4s listed at any given moment, all legal and aboveboard. Nothing about my listing indicates that it's stolen property and should be removed, rather than something I bought or received as a gift and no longer want. There's nothing to differentiate my listing from all the perfectly legal listings. Should E-bay be liable if someone innocently buys the stolen PS4 from me? Obviously, no because such a notion would result in the entire site shutting down, and a useful, lawful service would be lost for everyone. This precedent, however, says otherwise.

    Now, admittedly, Airbnb would have an easier (though still by no means easy) way of checking if any given Sacramento listing was legal or not than Ebay would have checking to see if your PS4 was stolen, but the precedent doesn't make that distinction. It pays lip service the distinction, but ultimately says the facilitation of a transaction is what deprives Airbnb of its CDA 230 coverage. You may dislike Airbnb, perhaps even for very valid, rational reasons, but the court precedent isn't based on those reasons. As a result, it implicates all manner of websites (Ebay, Amazon, GoFundMe, Patreon, Youtube, Kickstarter, etc) who would have to shut down all or portions of their service if this precedent becomes widespread because the threat of liability is to great for them to bear, but that would deprive everyone of their valuable and legal service.

  • Mar 14th, 2019 @ 5:14am

    Re: Then there's the other problem with FB...

    But that's not a Facebook problem. That's an internet problem. One of the great utilities of the internet is how easy it makes it to find other people with similar interests or views, whether that's political views or your shared interest in a specific cult-classic movie, or whatever. All Facebook did was extend that to your offline life. They found a way to compile data and suggest that you might know and want to reconnect/keep in touch with certain people, and with often scary accuracy.

    If FB dies or is killed, that won't kill MAGA idiocy, or the preponderance of idiots in general. They've always been here, and the internet makes it easy for them to find one another and organize. The genie is out of that bottle. FB may monetize their idiocy, but if it was gone tomorrow, they'd just move to Reddit or YouTube or whatever moves in to replace the vacuum left behind by FB.

  • Feb 27th, 2019 @ 9:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Building a Community

    That resonates with me. As I said, I don't know my neighbors, and have no particular interest in knowing them. I like the fact that I'm not pressured into participating in my local community, so I don't think it's rose colored glasses so much as noting a difference between my parents and their peers and myself and my peers.

    In the context of the podcast, though, if there's no participation in the local community in general, then getting them to engage about news of the local community the way we do here is a non-starter. To use the example from the podcast of the polluting factory, if I work an hour away (as you suggest) why should I care more that 500 people near me will lose their jobs if the factory closes than I would care about 500 people hundreds of miles away? Their proximity may have knock-on effects (increased crime, decreased revenue for local services, etc.) but I can always just move and maybe reduce my commute if it becomes an issue. While the 500 people who work at the factory may have a personal incentive to pay attention to that news, by your own admission, probably plenty of them don't live in that same community.

    Is it possible we've outgrown the need for local/community news and what we should focus on instead is issue news so that everyone can seek out news that matches their interests?

  • Feb 26th, 2019 @ 4:02pm

    Re: Re: Building a Community

    I agree with those points, to be sure, but there seems to be more to it than that. I get why people don't engage in local politics, but people don't seem to engage locally at all beyond very superficial things. Sure, you shop at your local grocery store, you go to your local restaurants, etc. But, when I grew up we at least knew in passing everyone living on our street. Now, I don't know any of my neighbors at all. People were actively engaged in local organizations (churches, boy scouts & girl scouts, rotary club, etc.) People are still involved with those organizations, but it's no longer as prevalent as it was. Your neighbors, both individuals and businesses are strangers. That's what I'm not sure about. I'm not sure what the catalysts for that cultural shift were, but without it, I don't see much hope for locally focused news outlets.

  • Feb 26th, 2019 @ 3:29pm

    Building a Community

    When you were talking about building a successful and healthy community, while I assume in many ways what you were talking about was what you've accomplished here at TD, the thing that it sounded most like were good Twitch channels. Not necessarily the big-money channels, though some of them would certainly qualify, but the good ones. The ones were you go not only to watch the content and listen to the streamer's commentary, but to actively engage with the regulars.

    Sadly, I think your guest had you on one point. At least for now, the pendulum may swing, the concept of geographical communities have lost a lot of relevance. I'm not entirely sure why that seems to be the case, but local politics haven't taken a back seat to national politics so much as they've been stuffed in the trunk and forgotten. People don't engage their physical neighbors. One reason for this, I think, is that the internet is amazing at helping people find online communities of people that share their niche interests, and it's on demand. You can engage when you want, how you want, with people that share your interest/concerns, and ignore everything else. The community principle at work in TD, or any given subreddit, or a Twitch channel works because it's oriented around a common interest. For geographically local news providers to create a community, they'd have to first re-engender an interest in that local community.

  • Feb 8th, 2019 @ 10:58am


    To my understanding, they'll still receive the game on Steam as expected when they placed the pre-order. They're just the only people on Steam who will have the game.

  • Feb 8th, 2019 @ 5:12am

    (untitled comment)

    I've long been a vocal opponent of console exclusives, but it's hitting me especially hard the last few years since my household made the considered decision not to buy a PS4 (this is the first gen of consoles where we made such a decision). So, no RDR2, no KH3, no Last of Us 2, etc. I think console exclusives whether they're exclusive to only PS4 or XB1 or exclusive only to consoles, no PCs allowed, are bad for the gaming industry for a host of reasons - it either fragments the player base or forces everyone to purchase multiple expensive pieces of hardware that will be obsolete in 4-5 years, it cuts down on total sales for any given game, and most importantly, since consoles are usually behind the curve on hardware, it hinders the art as a whole because wisely most large publishers don't release games on PC that won't run on consoles (again, lost sales). On the plus side, that means I haven't had to update my gaming PC in over 6 years, because consoles still haven't caught up.

    My last complaint is that it no longer makes sense. Building a lasting gaming PC used to be expensive. The value in getting a console was that you didn't have to shell out nearly the same money to be able to play those games as you would have for a comparable PC and most households didn't have any need for the added functionality of a full PC. After about 1995, that slowly but surely stopped being the case. Most homes (at least homes with disposable income for video games) have a PC to browse the web, stream video, etc. The cost of upgrading their existing PC or building a new, sturdy gaming PC is $600-$1K, which is, strangely enough, about the same as the cost of buying an XB1 & PS4 depending on where in their life-cycle you got them (and yes, many homes have both platforms - because of game exclusivity). The original reason for these consoles to even exist has been nullified.

    This isn't quite as bad, but it still tastes similarly to me. While I don't think UPlay runs very well, I don't resent it the way most people do because the only thing on UPlay (at least for me) are Ubisoft games. If a developer/publisher/studio wants to use their own launcher for things, fine, but in an age where digital download is the primary way to purchase and acquire new games (even on consoles), the idea that we need to falsely silo these games is absurd. Sure, if Epic or whoever, wants to take a run at Steam and see if they can't build a better platform, I'm all for it, but do it in a way that doesn't punish your audience. Compete on price, compete on features, or functionality of your platform, but don't compete on game availability. That's a bullshit tactic that PC gamers already hate. A business tactic that harms, hinders, or pisses off your primary audience isn't a good tactic.

  • Dec 27th, 2018 @ 5:29am

    The Reverse Rollercoaster

    The profitability lifespan of any e-sport, is a bit like a roller-coaster if gravity were reversed. Instead of a long, slow uphill climb to gain momentum at the start, it's a long, slow down-hill climb where you, as the developer, are just throwing money at your e-sport for prize-pools, event planning and hosting, etc in the hopes of gaining enough momentum to hit the rapid up-hill rise that will boost you to profitability. After that you'll have ups and downs like any business, but you must generate enough momentum in that first stretch to rise to popularity. Dota 2 is a prime example (and similar enough game) who made it and has been making very good money off their e-sport ever since. See the free documentary Free to Play to see how they did it, if interested.

    Unfortunately, it would seem Blizzard was not successful in promoting HOTS to competitive levels. I suspect there are a host of reasons behind their failure from established competition in the MOBA niche (Dota 2 and League of Legends) to game structure issues. Regardless of the precise reasons, HOTS never became wildly popular, and the true profit motive of any e-sport is to make the game very popular with amateur players who spend money in game on cosmetics etc. At some point, you realize you didn't gain enough momentum and continuing to host tournaments with all their related costs is just throwing good money after bad. Blizzard has apparently reached that point with HOTS. In short, any budding e-sport is always a speculative market both for the publisher and the players, broadcasters, sponsors, etc. You spend a lot of time, effort, and money on something in the hopes it takes off, but if it doesn't you may lose your shirt.

    I think the cautionary tale here, is to avoid an e-sport that's tied to other IPs. If Riot decided to stop supporting League of Legends, and someone else wanted to take a shot, they could just buy it. Nothing in the game is tied to any other IP. Every character, map, mount, and ability in HOTS, however, is tied to another Blizzard IP such that it seems unlikely they would sell, and even if they were the licensing would be a nightmare.

  • Dec 27th, 2018 @ 5:02am

    Re: Re: Culprit?

    This may be true, but many e-sports rely on after-the-fact YT viewers to keep interest and revenue streams (both viewers and advertisers/sponsors) alive. Most of these tournaments are multi-day, laddered events which may take place during the work/school day or the middle of the night for some portion of viewers, depending on where the tournament is being held, since most major tournaments are LANs. Most fans don't have 6-8 hours a day over several days to watch the whole thing live. So, if all your YT content can be taken down by a single notice from a publisher who is no longer interested, that's a serious concern.

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