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Use Tor, Get Targeted By the NSA

BaronHethorSamedi Re:That's the point of Tor. (451 comments)

If you have nothing to hide, you should be using Tor to help protect those who do.

I was with you up until that.

I'm in the "don't think I have anything to hide" camp (maybe I'm naïve). I also think it's perfectly legitimate not to have anything you want hidden and still not want the NSA snooping through your business.

That said, why would I want to use Tor for no other reason than to "protect" people who are using it to cover up their misdeeds? If you're doing something that you want to hide from federal law enforcement, I'm not inclined to assist you. (If I'm missing something-which happens fairly often-please help me out.)

about a year ago

Fundamentalist Schools Using "Nessie" To Disprove Evolution

BaronHethorSamedi Re:They are even dumber than they seem. (936 comments)

Until your misinformed spawn grow up and vote. Then we have a real problem.

The "problem" you refer to is called democracy. What solution do you propose?

more than 2 years ago

Hulu To Require Viewers To Have Cable Subscriptions

BaronHethorSamedi Re:Of course (648 comments)

It is not a sensible option. So much of our culture is based on or related to copyrighted materials. To keep in touch with culture, and to keep in touch with current pop-culture, and thus be able to easily relate to the common people you'll encounter day to day, it is important to be have access to and be exposed to copyrighted materials.

Wow, this...could almost have come from the mouth of a Comcast publicist. "You need the content we provide. Without us, you will be out of touch, and your conversations will be comically awkward. What will you talk about over the water cooler, if not last night's episode of Survivor? If you can't quote from last night's Family Guy, small children will laugh at you, and you will never be promoted at work."

I like to think that we're not so impoverished as a culture that our tastes and interactions are dictated entirely by what forms of entertainment the major media brokers deign to shovel in our direction for an exorbitant fee. How much of what's on TV is even worth the time it would take to pirate it, when there's a lot of really amazing stuff available free of charge, and in the public domain?

more than 2 years ago

UK ISPs Ordered To Block Pirate Bay

BaronHethorSamedi Re:This will work well (188 comments)

And TPB has legitimate purposes. I've watched several free movies like Pioneer One and The Yes Men Fix the World, as well as free music like Blalock's IRP, an album from an artist named Sosa that I've never heard of before, and all kinds of things.

Don't get me wrong, that's a small minority of the links up there (since it doesn't host any files, duh) but it's not all links to pirated material.

True enough that TPB traffics partly in legitimate, public domain-type files. But that's not something I'd really advance in their defense, mostly because they themselves don't. File sharing sites since Napster have pulled that out when hit with litigation. "Maybe there's infringing content on our service; we can't say--it has legitimate uses, and we certainly don't encourage infringement (nudge, wink)."

The Pirate Bay, to their credit or detriment, depending on your point of view, has always been up front about having (and encouraging) infringing content. For goodness' sake, they call themselves The Pirate Bay. I actually like their honesty in this regard--no pretense of doing anything other than facilitating infringement. It's essentially their whole platform, as I understand it.

And you quite fairly acknowledge that legitimate content on their servers is in the minority. So c'mon--the dudes are pirates! Don't take that away from them.

more than 2 years ago

Have Online Comment Sections Become Specious?

BaronHethorSamedi Maybe not a joke, unfortunately. (429 comments)

Maybe Gawker, et al, need to come to grips with the terrifying possibility that online comments absolutely do capture the intelligence of the readership.

more than 2 years ago

The Dead Sea Scrolls and Information Paranoia

BaronHethorSamedi Re:LOLing at the "English" translation (585 comments)

OK, I'm going to suggest that your version did not improve on the version that made you "LOL."

Why did English scholars use all those "thees" and "thous" instead of just "you?" Well, partly to maintain pronoun distinctions in English that existed in the original language. While "you" in modern English is pretty much the all purpose second person form of address, it wasn't always so. English (like a lot of languages even today) had a second person plural pronoun ("ye") and a second person singular ("thou"). When translating languages that had fine pronoun distinctions of that sort, it made sense to render them as closely as possible in English, even if that involved using slightly archaic forms of address. Also, the use of "thee" and "thou" often connoted an intimate, familiar relationship between the speaker and the person being addressed, which would often be reflected in the original texts if the speaker was addressing deity (or, purportedly, if deity was addressing the speaker).

Now, many modern languages still maintain a familiar form of address, even though they've fallen by the wayside in English (and an argument could be made that English is not richer for having lost them). If you read the Isaiah passage you quoted in modern French, for example, the familiar second person pronouns would be used. Many modern languages, despite having a less expansive vocabulary than English, still have tenses and forms of address that allow the expression of certain kinds of feeling and relationships that are hard to render in modern English, but can still be communicated if you use an older (but as attested by your "translation," still quite intelligible) form of the language.

As to it being "harder to build a cult around prose," well, maybe. A lot of Isaiah was poetry, not prose. Poetry is much more difficult to translate into a foreign language (ancient Hebrew to English, for example), so a lot of the versification gets lost. I'm sure the translators did their best. I'd still maintain, in light of what I note above, that their efforts are probably superior to yours.

If your goal was to point out that a translator can make most any text less compelling by ignoring any depth in the original expression and brutalizing it down to a few words conveying a basic idea, then I think you are correct. But I'm not sure that language or communication will be much improved by the exercise.

more than 2 years ago

New Sony PSN ToS: Class Action Waiver Included

BaronHethorSamedi I am not a contract lawyer... (378 comments)

Maybe there's one floating around here that could comment on whether this might be deemed unconscionable?

Seems to me Sony is spontanteously forcing users to renegotiate their use contract in a decidedly one-sided fashion. Yes, yes, all EULAs fall into that category, but this seems more like an ongoing service agreement--you've been using PSN for some time, Sony steps in and says, "Hey, if you want to keep using our network, you need to surrender an important right." Just the sort of important right that could put an individual consumer on more even footing with a multinational corporation in asserting his/her entitlements under contract.

more than 2 years ago

AA batteries of any kind in my residence:

BaronHethorSamedi Re:Billions (well sort of) (297 comments)

Hoo, boy. Here's the problem with a lot of reactionary environmentalism.

Let's start by noticing that GP made a fairly neutral observation about the likelihood of a lot of batteries ending up in a landfill. You then assumed he was putting batteries in the trash. Why you thought this, I don't know. I think the tone of the original post suggested that lots of batteries in a landfill was a bad thing. GP probably shares your opinion, and you laid into him with a nasty, standoffish response.

The third paragraph you wrote was a pleasant anecdote illustrating a good way to deal with used batteries (although not everyone might have such good disposal options available to them). Your post would have been much nicer and more reasonable without the first two paragraphs. Others might be much more inclined to listen to you if you didn't respond like a condescending twit to people who are more than likely on your side (and hey, even to people who aren't).

more than 2 years ago

GameStop Opening Deus Ex Boxes, Removing Free Game Coupon

BaronHethorSamedi This is why I won't shop GameStop (343 comments)

True story. I went to Gamestop once to pick up Dragon Age: Origins. I'd seen the DLC advertised with a new copy, and that sounded like a good deal. The clerk offered me a used copy for slightly below the $60 asking price. I specified I wanted a new copy for the DLC, so he took the box out from behind the counter, I paid for it and left.

I got the game home, opened it, and there was no code for DLC included. Then I noticed the game had been unsealed and re-wrapped. I took it back to the store, presented the receipt and said, "Hey, you sold me a used game at full retail." The guy tried to backpedal, saying it was a new copy that had been opened for display purposes, and maybe someone had stolen the DLC code. It was late, so at that point I offered to take the used copy he'd previously offered if he gave me the right price for it. He then said that was the only copy they had (though he'd previously tried to sell me on a used copy before presenting me with the "new" one). He hastily provided me with a full refund.

Then I went to a competitor's store nearby, where I found a new (i.e. sealed) copy for $40, DLC included. I have not set foot inside a GameStop since. My definition of a "new game" is one that's gone from the factory to my hands without the contents of the box seeing daylight. GameStop, it seems, has other ideas.

more than 2 years ago

Big Drop In Solar Activity Could Cool Earth

BaronHethorSamedi Re:Global Warming is Over! (569 comments)

The fact remains that complex systems, be they markets, ecologies, or climate, remain unbelievably complex, and we have no way of knowing what our actions could do.

And as far as banalities go, how about this -- do not mess with complex systems you don't fully understand.

More than fair. The problem is, there is a HUGE political wing that not only believes it understands the complexities of ecological change, but understands them well enough to want to impose corrective measures. Those corrective measures themselves invariably involve "messing with" markets, economies, and yes, ecologies, all at public expense.

Complexity is a double-edged sword. I'm all for not meddling with things I don't understand, and treating the planet with respect; I am consequently somewhat mistrustful of those who claim to understand our gigantically complex ecosystem well enough to tell me what I should be doing to fix it.

more than 3 years ago

Engineers Find Nuclear Meltdown At Fukushima Plant

BaronHethorSamedi Re:Nuclear power arguments (664 comments)

Because nuclear power doesn't exist independently of management or engineering.

Incidentally, I tend to favor nuclear energy, but it doesn't operate in a vacuum. Your question actually does a pretty good job of framing the broad points of the debate--in theory, nuclear power is clean, safe and efficient. In practice, it's run by complex human organizations. Any complex human organization has the potential for failure at some point along its chain of obligations, and in the case of a nuclear reactor, the potential cost of a failure (no matter how small the chance of that failure occurring) is very steep, as Fukushima is demonstrating. Splitting hairs between the power itself and the structures on which it depends seems painfully semantic when catastrophe actually strikes.

more than 3 years ago

Sony Online Entertainment Services Follow PSN Down

BaronHethorSamedi Re:Vigilante Justice (184 comments)

I believe that it may be an example of vigilante justice. However, simple criminal greed would also explain what happened here.

Are these really mutually exclusive? Lots of comments here seem to break down into the hackers being (a) righteous vigilantes handing Sony their just desserts or (b) thieves and hooligans. There's nothing about having a legitimate complaint against a major corporation that prevents you from being a greedy sociopath.

more than 3 years ago

Students Build Life-Sized Trojan Horse For Class Project

BaronHethorSamedi Re:Naysayers (72 comments)

Agree wholeheartedly! I'm not sure why this was tagged "idle." This is categorically the coolest humanities project in recent memory, and it shows an amazing amount of creativity, teamwork and initiative.

I'm sure it's also completely unrelated to distressing reports of Marengo High School being razed and pillaged, and its cheerleading squad being carried off into captivity.

more than 3 years ago

RIAA Lobbyist Becomes Federal Judge, Rules On File-Sharing Cases

BaronHethorSamedi Re:It's hard enough to be impartial abot things (333 comments)

Yes, my reading comprehension is fine, thank you. How's yours?

This case involves the very same organization for whom she lobbied Congress. Not a different organization with the same vague type of "case in that arena" (your attempt to muddy the waters has failed). The exact same one.

From the article (emphasis mine):

Having worked with the RIAA rather than the small movie producers bringing the current suits, and having worked for the industry on legislation rather than litigation, Howell does not appear to have any direct stake in these particular cases.

That aside, please explain the alarming difference, in terms of bias, between a lawyer representing a client in court, and a lobbyist (who is also a lawyer) representing a client before a legislature. The high ideals you have cited are admirable, but lawyers (like lobbyists) practice law to make a living. I hope all attorneys are as principled as you describe; I question whether it is the case.

more than 3 years ago

RIAA Lobbyist Becomes Federal Judge, Rules On File-Sharing Cases

BaronHethorSamedi Re:It's hard enough to be impartial abot things (333 comments)

Yes, I am pretty sure it would be grounds for appeal.

On what basis? Presumably the lawyers knew who she was before they started arguing the case. If they wanted to object to her hearing it, they would have done so before they asked her to hand down a ruling. (TFA even outlines recusal conditions under federal law, but doesn't indicate there was any motion filed to have her taken off the case.) The article also acknowledges that "Howell's different perspective is defensible on its merits," apparently meaning there's nothing inherently improper about her ruling the way she did. "I don't like the way the judge ruled," by itself, isn't an issue subject to appeal.

more than 3 years ago

RIAA Lobbyist Becomes Federal Judge, Rules On File-Sharing Cases

BaronHethorSamedi Re:It's hard enough to be impartial abot things (333 comments)

Actually, shocking as it may seem, virtually all U.S. Federal Judges (and indeed, the vast majority of U.S. judges generally), were once lawyers, "fighting on one side of a case."

I know Slashdot will scream bloody murder because this touches on something near and dear to their hearts (file-sharing, copyright, etc.), but if we're going to start barring judges from hearing cases based on former career choices, we're going to run out of judges pretty quickly. Lots of judges who hear criminal cases in the U.S. were once prosecutors or defense lawyers. Should they be excluded because of potential bias? Should a judge who once made a career as a plaintiff's attorney in medical malpractice suits be barred from hearing cases in that arena? We always have to give judges some measure of trust to be able to put aside their own ideologies; they're human beings after all. Even the summary notes Howell isn't the only judge to believe as she does; I rather doubt all the other judges who've ruled similarly could have been RIAA cronies. We can say it's bad to have a judge hearing a case in an area where she's previously practiced; is it better to have a judge with no practical experience in that area of law, and who knows nothing about it?

more than 3 years ago

CCIA Calls Copyright Wiretaps 'Hollywood's PATRIOT Act'

BaronHethorSamedi Re:Who'd a thunk it? (150 comments)

I just keep having trouble with the realization that I have lived through the largest destruction of personal liberty (and personal dignity) in US history.

Perhaps that's because, unless you are approximately 200 years old, you haven't.

Have you or anyone you know ever been forced into a one-sided labor contract for a term of years?
Have you or anyone you know ever actually been forced into servitude and treated as the property of another person?
Have you or anyone you know ever been denied the right to vote based on your sex?
Have you or anyone you know ever been forced by law to undergo surgical sterilization based on a mental or physical handicap, ethnicity, or perceived antisocial tendencies?
Have you or anyone you know ever been forbidden by law to marry because your intended was of another race?
Have you or anyone you know ever been forced to relocate your entire family to a camp based on your ethnicity?

Every generation has its problems. America has in the past been guilty of practices far more dehumanizing than anything that's going on presently. While you may feel the urgency of your political views (and certainly you are entitled to), I think that in historical terms, the United States today are at a high water-mark in terms of both personal liberty and personal dignity. As to the "suppression of First Amendment freedoms," I always have a hard time viewing such claims, when expressed over the internet, as anything other than hyperbole. Really, just by dint of having access to the internet, we have more freedom to speak, and more power to reach listeners, than any other generation in human history. Use the First Amendment freedoms you enjoy, go and read some history, and then come back and complain about how bad things are these days. Is there room for progress? Of course--there always is. Personally though, looking back over the past several hundred years, I think Americans have never had it so good.

more than 3 years ago

Cutting Prices Is the Only Way To Stop Piracy

BaronHethorSamedi Cutting prices can stop piracy? Really? (620 comments)

I'm sorry, I have a hard time believing this.

The study deals with "pricing problems" in emerging global economies. If the contention is that in such economies, digital media are priced out of the market, well and good. Reduce your prices, you will probably see an uptick in sales.

But isn't it a common Slashdot rejoinder, whenever someone claims to have "lost a sale to piracy," that a pirate is someone who would not have purchased your media anyway? You can't have it both ways. I live in the U.S., which I don't think would be considered an "emerging economy" for the purposes of the study. If prices here are at least more proportional to the perceived value of the product than in developing countries, why do Americans still pirate media?

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the overwhelming majority of people who pirate media do so because their notion of a "pricing problem" is that the product has a price on it, period. Didn't we have a story here a while back indicating that most people who pirate in the U.S. do so because it's a way to get free stuff? Come on--technology provides people with a means to obtain what they want (albeit unlawfully), at no cost to themselves, with no apparent injury to any visible person, and virtually zero likelihood of getting caught. Do we really believe a significant number of the people who avail themselves of that opportunity do so because their acceptable price point is somewhere above nothing?

We can claim that reducing prices may reduce piracy (although, rather like the lost sales claims made by major rights-holders, such claims are difficult to back up with hard data). But pretending that cutting prices will make piracy vanish (or even meaningfully reduce it) is laughable.

more than 3 years ago

How Watchmen Killed 'R'-rated Fantasy Movies

BaronHethorSamedi Re:Don't blame FILMS blame the SYSTEM (771 comments)

So if I'm understanding correctly, your argument runs to this effect (and if I'm misinterpreting, please let me know): the MPAA has a tremendous amount of control over whether a film will be commercially viable (i.e., R and NC-17 ratings significantly reduce the potential profitability of a film in the eyes of a distributor). This I readily concede. I'm less certain that this amounts to censorship--merely providing a marketing incentive to remove or alter content isn't the same as actively suppressing it. All content distributors engage in this to some degree--an author seeking to publish a book, unless she's self-publishing, will need to submit her work to editorial decisions. She can scream all she wants about censorship--the publisher isn't required to publish her book under any circumstance.

And so it goes with film. Distributor says, OK, we'll make your film, but these cuts need to be made to get it to an R/PG-13 rating. You can say no. You may not get the funding you want. That's fine. Free speech rights go to individuals (or groups of individuals); films don't have an independent right to be made. Free speech REALLY doesn't mean that you have a right to have someone else bankroll what you want to say.

more than 3 years ago

How Watchmen Killed 'R'-rated Fantasy Movies

BaronHethorSamedi Re:Don't blame FILMS blame the SYSTEM (771 comments)

Artistically speaking, freedom of expression is limited in the United States (and other countries, don't get me wrong) because of regulatory bodies that exist for the sole purpose of deciding what is appropriate content and what is not.

Which regulatory bodies are you referring to, specifically? The FCC? They don't regulate movies. The MPAA? They're a private outfit. They don't censor anything; they just attach a letter to most major studio releases so people can decide if they want to watch it or not. (Whether the letters themselves make sense is a separate question.) That movies like Watchmen are having a hard time getting financed these days has nothing to do with regulation--it has to do with Watchmen being an expensive film that did rather poorly at the box office.

As an aside, freedom of expression in the United States is at a higher point now than ever. There are more ways of expressing oneself, to a wider audience, and with less restriction, than at any other time in human history. Griping about some sort of repressive system, in 21st century America, doesn't make much sense.

more than 3 years ago


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