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Submission + - Wizards of the Coast ban sex offender from Magic, allow drug dealer->

Andy Smith writes: Possibly the biggest controversy to ever hit the world of Magic: The Gathering is the banning of top-eight player Zach Jesse, a convicted sex offender who was 'outed' by another player. Adding some flavour to the mix is that another top Magic player, Patrick Chapin, is a convicted drug dealer. Rather than banning him, though, Wizards employed him as an intern and added him to the Magic Hall of Fame. This raises the issue of companies over-ruling laws that should, in theory, allow time-served criminals to step back in to society and rebuild their lives.
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Comment Charging (Score 1) 674 674

I was born and lived in Yorkshire, England for 20 years, a place that has a light-hearted reputation for being tight with money. A couple of years ago my girlfriend and I went on a road trip and visited Yorkshire. We had breakfast in a cafe where I plugged in my phone. The owner came over and started talking about how we were putting him out of business and electricity isn't cheap etc. We thought he was joking at first. But then he asked us for 50p to cover the cost of the electric. He was serious.

Comment Trust (Score 0) 217 217

I'm struggling to think of any company that I trust less than Google. I mean, I don't really "trust" any company, but with Google I specifically distrust them. Anyone who has had to deal with their various press offices around the world will have sensed that there's something creepily wrong with that company. The whole operation screams "go away".

Comment OSX too (Score 0) 517 517

I do wonder why this happens. I've always had the vague explanation in my head that the OS gets clogged up with files that it has to catalogue, parse, etc, but I suspect it's not that simple.

When I switched full-time to Macs about 2 years ago I thought it would be great that I'd never again have to put up with my OS slowing down. But sure enough, it did, and every 6 months or so I have to blank my Mac and reinstall. Which to be honest I don't mind doing because it's super-easy on a Mac, and I like knowing that my system is clean again.

Although curse you Apple the last install has left me with a weird issue whereby every time I boot the machine OSX asks me to verify the iCloud keychain from another device. I've done this maybe a dozen times now and have finally given up. I've had to accept that until I reinstall OSX, for some reason I'm going to get the keychain nag every time I boot up. But pretty much everything on iOS/OSX is broken at the moment so no big surprise.

Submission + - Banks caught charging penalties over false transaction dates

Andy Smith writes: I'm a freelancer journalist. A couple of years ago I got a huge exclusive about 700,000 people being given a defective typhoid vaccine. But I was new to the big leagues of journalism, and I was naive, so the drug company successfully stalled the story until they were able to put out their own version of it and control the bad press. Now the same thing seems to be happening again with a major story about banks charging penalty fines over falsified transaction dates. So rather than let the banks control how the story gets out, I decided to put it on my blog.

Comment Trust (Score 4, Insightful) 384 384

I blanked my Mac a few weeks ago and when I started reinstalling software I got some survey crap popping up on my screen asking for my details. Turns out it was the SourceForge installer for FileZilla that had sneaked it through. Googling it threw up enough horror stories to make me just blank the Mac again and start over. I'll never download anything from SourceForge again. A decade of trust destroyed in one stupid move.

Comment Re:Sentencing matched the guidelines (Score 1) 363 363

Replying again :-)

I totally take on board what you're saying about the scoring system, but I still think it's evident that the judge's personal opinions influenced the sentencing. Consider this quote from the Wired article:

But in her sentencing statement, Forrest denied even that the Silk Road was a naive experiment, or some sort of youthful mistake. "It was a carefully planned life's work. It was your opus," she said. "You wanted it to be your legacy. And it is."

None of that is fact. It's what the judge *thinks* is fact. Suppose her opinion had been that Silk Road was a naive, youthful experiment, something that he'd just thrown together and then it snowballed, something that he wasn't proud of. Would she really have handed down the harshest possible sentence? I think she'd have found some justification to give him a lighter sentence.

Maybe I'm just getting more empathetic as I get older. I've never done anything illegal but I've sure done stupid things, as we all have, and losing the rest of your life because you were a dick in your early 30s seems almost inhumane to me. Most of us do stupid stuff and then we move on and learn from our own stupidity. This guy deserves to lose some of his liberty because his stupidity was illegal, but his entire life? I just can't convince myself that this is how I want my fellow humans to be treated.

Comment Judges undermine justice (Score 4, Insightful) 363 363

I posted in this thread already but then went and read more about the case, and thought I'd share some anecdotal evidence.

As part of my job I sometimes have to sit in court rooms for specific cases, and I end up hearing a lot of other cases while I'm there. Two have stuck in my mind.

The first was the case of a lady who had been stopped by the police for using her mobile phone while driving. Her defence was that she'd been at home and a relative had called to tell her that her dad had been rushed to hospital. She jumped in the car, set off, and phoned her sister. That was when the police saw her. The prosecution didn't challenge her version of events. To me it seemed like an obvious time for a judge to use his discretion, but no, because her defence involved an admission that she did use the phone while driving, so she was found guilty and fined about £750 if I remember correctly.

Another case was a police officer accused of causing injury by dangerous driving. He'd driven through a red light while responding to an emergency call and collided with another car. I'm going to paraphrase as best I can how the judge handed down his verdict: "It is part of a police driver's job that they will sometimes have to exceed the speed limit or go through a red light when responding to an emergency call, and it is vital that due care and attention is paid to ensure that it is safe to do so. You did not exercise due care or attention when going through the red light and that lack of care caused the collision. However, you were responding to an emergency call, and therefore the court hands down an absolute discharge." Read that again if it's not immediately obvious what was wrong with the judge's logic :-)

Here's my point. When I read about the Ross Ulbricbht court, what comes across to me is that the judge is saying "blah blah yadda yadda legal stuff and now here is MY OPINION" which will vary from judge to judge. But surely justice must be consistent? You shouldn't have one judge convicting a person for making an urgent phone call, but a different judge effectively exonerating a policeman for not driving with the care required by his job. And you shouldn't have a judge handing down an entire life sentence when another judge would most likely have given a sentence of 10-20 years.

Opinions shouldn't come in to justice. If they do, it's not justice, it's one person's opinion of what justice should be.

Comment Harsh (Score 3, Informative) 363 363

I'm not at all supportive of what he did (you won't find a more anti-drugs person than me) but this seems particularly harsh.

If this sentence is to "set an example" then it must be overturned. The keystone of justice is fairness and setting an example with a harsh punishment is by definition unfair.

Comment Re:My email to press@starbucks.com (Score 4, Insightful) 107 107

For most of my life I've worked freelance so I haven't had much experience of the corporate world. But I recently worked for a small newspaper company (approx 400 employees) for a year and it was an eye-opening experience. It amazes me how anything ever gets done in these blind, ignorant, slow-moving organisations.

I'll give you one example. The company's web filter had an issue with our own web sites, which prevented us from reading them. When I asked IT about it they knew what the problem was, but they couldn't authorise the fix and they suggested I raise the issue with my manager. But my manager was unapproachable -- asking for something to be done was the best way to make sure it didn't get done. It took over a YEAR for a small newspaper company to fix an IT issue that prevented staff from reading their own newspapers' web sites.

I dread to think what life must be like in big corporations. I don't want to ever experience it.

Submission + - Hacker warns Starbucks of security flaw, gets accused of fraud

Andy Smith writes: Another company that just doesn't get it. Hacker Egor Homakov found a security flaw in Starbucks gift cards which allowed people to steal money from the company. He reported the flaw to Starbucks, but rather than thank him the company accused him of fraud and said he had been acting maliciously.

Real programmers don't bring brown-bag lunches. If the vending machine doesn't sell it, they don't eat it. Vending machines don't sell quiche.

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