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Slashback

Slashback: Salon, Privacy, Pricedrops 233

Slashback with more on Salon's struggle to balance ads and subscriptions, online retailers versus online bargain hunters, the not-at-all-secret government proposal to obtain "Total Information Awareness" (including information about you), and more.

Circumventing the upsell, but not all of it. Responding to the recent post about cable service a la carte, alta writes "I got a response from Jane Black (who wrote the original article) and she said slashdot jumped the gun. You can not pick and choose which channel you want. You can just choose to get basic limited and premium without getting the 2 steps in between. Here's the actual piece of law:

"Buy-through of other tiers prohibited - A cable operator may not require the subscription to any tier other than the basic service tier required by paragraph (7) as a condition of access to video programming offered on a per channel or per program basis. A cable operator may not discriminate between subscribers to the basic service tier and other subscribers with regard to the rates charged for video programming offered on a per channel or per program basis.
Read it all here. Here's what Jane said:
'But please make sure you understand the rule (Slashdot's headline was misleading indeed.) You can't just choose which channels you want. The new rule says that you can get basic (the network and cspan etc) plus HBO/Starz/Showtime *without* having to buy the standard package as well. If you want AMC, Lifetime, whatever, you still need to buy the whole package. Make sense?'
If you still need it, you can find more about the law here. Just type 543 in the "Section" field. The citation is: Section 623(b)(8) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended. Found at volume 47 of the US Code Section 543(b)(8)"

The Salon dilemma. A Slashdot post last week reported that Salon was in serious financial trouble, and had dropped its premium section and instituted giant ads. Salon has now moved to over-the-counter trading. "While we valued the prestige of a NASDAQ listing, this move to the OTC market should not affect our core business," says Salon's president and CEO in the story. Update: 11/26 00:42 GMT by J : One correction: Salon has not dropped its premium section.

Dole, or Hormel? MacAndrew writes "As briefly discussed in slashdot a few weeks ago, Senator-elect Elizabeth Dole has been sued by a constituent who received eight unsolicited emails from her. He claims $100 damages including "emotional distress for having received spam from someone who should know better." Salon has now published an article focusing on the critical political versus commercial speech aspect of the case. Courts have recognized political speech as the innermost circle of free speech protection, and groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation believe spam laws that interfere with it may be not just unwise but unconstitutional."

Surely, someone's wallet will end up fat. In reaction to the recent story about provisions of the DMCA being used to prevent the posting of post-Thanksgiving sales prices from large retailers, Brian McWilliams writes "I finished up my story about FatWallet after you posted that link on Slashdot. Might help explain some stuff."

Well, we thought this here panopticon would be a nice idea ... McLuhanesque writes "DARPA has posted the architecture for their Total Information Awareness Systems , the uber-database that purports to suck in every scrap of electronic information about everyone, mix in some Human ID at a Distance technology, among other stuff, and profile ... well, just about everyone. More of their proposed fun and games are listed here." And Declan McCullagh writes: "Just posted the transcript of the Pentagon news briefing (worth a read) on Politech. Note this is on the TIA program, not 'eDNA.'

$10,000 is nothing to sneeze at. The idea of buying code into the world of Free software (aka code Ransom, as mentioned on Slashdot a few days ago) is drawing interest. waxed writes "FreePepper is an effort to collect enough money to purchase the source code for the multiplatform text editor Pepper from its author, Maarten Hekkelman, who has ceased development of it and re-release it under a BSD-style license. Donations may be made via PayPal or cheque."

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Slashback: Salon, Privacy, Pricedrops

Comments Filter:
  • Hell with that! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GeckoFood ( 585211 ) <geckofood@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Monday November 25, 2002 @07:04PM (#4755198) Journal

    ...purports to suck in every scrap of electronic information about everyone...

    This kind of crap is exactly what it would take to make me cancel my account with my ISP and do everything by paper again. Big step backwards. Yeah, I know, they have all the dirt by other channels anyway, but why make it easy?

    • by cosmosis ( 221542 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @07:38PM (#4755430) Homepage
      Hey man, I agree with you about all of this, and there have been days recently with all of the malarky passing into law where I almost felt the urge to chuck it all - and live like it was 1975 - paper and all. But by the time they manage to get this huge bureacratic behometh to do this type of dirty work we could very likely see a massive decentralized ad-hoc and an emerging phenomona called [meshnetworks.com] Smart Mobs [smartmobs.com] and anonymous surfing provided by Hacktivismo [hacktivismo.com], censorship-free and anonymous information via Freenet [freenetproject.org], open spectrum [darwinmag.com] and finally perhaps anonymous digital cash from Yodel Bank [yodelbank.com].

      Planet P [planetp.cc] - Liberation With Technology.
      • Only terrorists would desire to use anonymous digital cash over a communist wireless mesh network via secure channels.

        Real Americans (i.e. cowards unaware of history) have nothing to hide from their totally information-aware and benevolent government.

        --

    • This kind of crap is exactly what it would take to make me cancel my account with my ISP and do everything by paper again.

      Here's an RFC to help you [ietf.org] with the transition to paper-based Internet access.
      • This kind of crap is exactly what it would take to make me cancel my account with my ISP and do everything by paper again.

        Here's an RFC to help you [ietf.org] with the transition to paper-based Internet access.

        ...and here [linux.no]'s a group of people who've implemented it, and here [slashdot.org]'s the article /. ran on it.

  • by wendy ( 42400 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @07:05PM (#4755213) Homepage
    See also the Chilling Effects Weather Report: Bargain Shoppers Chilled by Retailers' DMCA Threats [chillingeffects.org], where we dissect the DMCA safe harbor provision and potential legal claims and responses.
    • Bargain shopping web sites with online forum discussions such as Fatwallet.com and DealExpert.net received DMCA 512 notices with threats of legal action if they did not remove the postings containing these price lists on their web sites.

      Section 512 of the DMCA. The new Super-DMCA bill is S.2048. WTF?! Are the planets aligning in the right way to have these important sections in law to happen to fall on a direct power of two?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 25, 2002 @07:07PM (#4755230)
    Step 1: Write a bunch of articles you can find anywhere else.
    Step 2: ???
    Step 3: Bankrupcy!
  • by MushMouth ( 5650 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @07:08PM (#4755236) Homepage
    They just allow you to get to the premium content if you click through some long Mercedes Benz ad. On a side note, this news is now 4 days old.
    • SlashBACK - to me, that implies a recap of the week's top stories. But that's just me; I suppose it's possible some people might confuse it to mean a section devoted to geeks suffering back problems. Who am I to judge?
  • free Pepper? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by citroidSD ( 517889 ) <citroidsdNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Monday November 25, 2002 @07:08PM (#4755238)
    $10,000 sounds like a lot of money for Pepper. Maybe the money would be better spent on other projects?

    [insert] token reference to donating money to EFF here [/insert]

    just a thought...
    • Re:free Pepper? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by iomud ( 241310 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @07:26PM (#4755351) Homepage Journal
      <sarcasm>I dunno, the opensource community really needs another text editor. If things continue they way they have been for the past year we'll have to file for chapter 11. If only we had just one more text editor to save the day.</sarcasm>
      • <sarcasm>I dunno, the opensource community really needs another text editor....</sarcasm>

        What I don't understand is this: is it really worth $11,000 to take over someone else's sources and maintain them for a project like Pepper? How difficult would it be to take $8,000, pocket it, use the existing product (as a black/gray box) as a base from which to write something else better (and more informed)?

        I can understand Blender (maybe not $100k worth, but I'm in no position to attempt to assess value on something like that), but Pepper doesn't seem to be all that complicated. Certainly not more so that OpenOffice, Emacs or even VIM.

        Hey, if there are 1,000 Pepper users willing to chip in $10 each for the sources, more power to them....
        • If they end up collecting the money, more power to them. I mean that's great but there are probably tons of other worthy projects that could also use the ten bucks. Blender is in the unique position of being the only 3D modeling tool of it's caliber freely available for linux, windows etc. However pepper doesnt fill the editor niche like, blender fills the 3D modeling niche. I can name probably ten decent editors where I can name but one 3D tool. While they're waiting to collect the money, maybe they can take up learning vim or emacs as a hobby.
      • Kidding aside, I'm curious about text editors for win32. Sure, there are quite a few (CrimsonEditor [crimsoneditor.com] is my current favorite, with Source Edit [sourceedit.com] close behind) but, like any good geek, I'm looking for The Best ;).

        Ports of Emacs [gnu.org] or Vi[m] [vim.org] to win32 don't interest me very much, primarily because I enjoy the hotkey conventions that I'm used to already in win32 (Ctrl-C to copy, Ctrl-X to cut, and so on). Really, I'm looking for one with syntax highlighting for languages such as HTML and CSS, and a tabbed-interface. Are there any Super Great editors that I should check out?

    • Re:free Pepper? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I think that is the basic problem with ransomware. The author's value of a program vs the actual value of the program to the world at large will always be different. I'm sure that author put 10k worth of his personal time into making the editor work, but when we have to judge the value of a product by a one time chunk fee.. we lose out on both sides.

      ransomware as an idea sucks.

      give 10k to RMS and just use emacs. *cough*
    • Re:free Pepper? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TekReggard ( 552826 )
      I can see this being capitalized on. People will make start selling the source code to their programs for ridiculous prices al la the Microsoft Way off doing things. As Seen Here. [slashdot.org]

      I would like to see some kind of standard set for pricing. OS's cost too much [as noted above], Most software has a set shelf value from day 1, and many of us have got to remember when you could find website auctions going on... "Buy www.YourCompany'sNameHere.com for $9,999,999!!!"

      Who is going to be watching out for the little guy if there isnt any kind of realistic gauging done on supply and demand in the Tech industry? Its certainly not the government if they're supporting the idea that because we use computers we're criminals.

    • $10,000 sounds like a lot of money for Pepper. Maybe the money would be better spent on other projects?

      That's an odd thing to say. Who's to say that spending money on Pepper is any better or worse than spending it somewhere else? The only people who can make that choice are the ones ponying up the dough.
    • Re:free Pepper? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WasterDave ( 20047 ) <davep@@@zedkep...com> on Monday November 25, 2002 @07:35PM (#4755408)
      Ten thousand dollars sounds like about a months' worth of hiring someone who knows what they're doing plus computer, desk, coffee etc.

      Fscking bargain, if you want the source to an editor, and it effectively kills selling into OSS as an industry.

      Dave
    • Re:free Pepper? (Score:4, Informative)

      by notfancy ( 113542 ) <matias@@@k-bell...com> on Monday November 25, 2002 @07:38PM (#4755425) Homepage

      $10,000 sounds like a lot of money for Pepper.

      It might be worth perusing the discussion [osnews.com] on OSNews. The argument pro revolves around the question of how much is your time worth, as a non-OS programmer. The argument con hinges on various issues of relevance and desirability (as you point out).

      Pepper has a lot for it in that it is an editor that strove from the start to be an outstanding GUI editor. As Hekkelman himself tells in the interview, the architecture has a couple of nice features not really found on other editors (except, perhaps, MPW for Classic Mac OS. Witness the long mourning some regulars to the mpw-dev list go through still to this day): journal-based edit log for unlimited replay (as opposed to merely undo), superior rendering, virtual file editing, programmable syntax highligting, etc. Many Open Source text widgets could benefit enormously from importing/integrating Pepper code.

      Then again, maybe not. Editors tend to be a notoriously religious bone of contention.

      • Of course this is the same editor which the author stopped working on because the event handlers needed to be reentrant as of MacOS 10.2, and it was going to be difficult to make this change for some reason. Making an event handler reentrant is a piece of cake. Take a lock at the begining, and release it at the end. Sure, they'll be serialized, but they were before too, right? If the Pepper code is so messed up that you can't easily make the event handlers reentrant then the code is probably best put in the bit bucket.

        Who needs it anymore anyway? Xemacs and GNU emacs now both run on MacOS X. Save your $10k.
    • Re:free Pepper? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Zeinfeld ( 263942 )
      $10,000 sounds like a lot of money for Pepper

      There are parts of London where the ground rents are still priced in pepper corns.

      At one time pepper being a valuable spice worth more than its weight in gold was used as currency. So a peppercorn is still legal tender in the UK and other common law countries.

      As such a peppercorn is commonly used as a rent in cases where land is essentially being gifted but for various reasons cannot be given or sold. For example Christ Church College Oxford is build on land owned by Christ Church, given to them under a covenant that prevents sale. So the land is actually leased to CCC on a 499 year lease with a rent (due to expire soon!). I don't know the amount in the CCC case but in similar transactions a peppercorn per year is used.

    • Re:free Pepper? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by CerebusUS ( 21051 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @08:13PM (#4755617)
      Something I found interesting: He has an existing offer for $10K on the table and is willing to let the open source community buy it out for $11K...

      What if they only raise $3K and the current buyer withdraws? Was this a bad move? Didn't he just lose $7K?

      or what if the current buyer decides that since the OSS community can't pony up that much money, they adjust their offer down to $5K?

      Maybe he should put the source up on ebay...
  • Not just Salon (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mickwd ( 196449 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @07:09PM (#4755245)
    Check out Byte's current situation. [byte.com]
    • Re:Not just Salon (Score:4, Insightful)

      by NewtonsLaw ( 409638 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @07:59PM (#4755547)
      Hell, I used to be an avid Byte subscriber twenty years or more ago -- but somehow there's something wrong with the transition from print to web.

      Print publications (in this industry anyway) are always 6-8 weeks out of date -- and that's a long, long time in the IT/Net fields.

      Online publications however, just don't seem to represent the same tangible "substance" as a lump of dead tree does. I suspect this is one of the reasons that few online publications have successfully migrated to the subscription model.

      Perhaps it's because reading an online publication simply isn't as convenient as reading a highly portable, high contrast, full color, no batteries required, lightweight, foldable, near infinite transfer-rate printed magazine.

      We all *know* the value is in the information -- but somewhere, deep inside our heads, we're thinking "how can something that we can't touch, feel or taste be of any value?"

      The crazy thing is that we're still happy to pay $39 a month for cable or satellite TV when all we're getting is "information" in the form of entertainment that is equally as "virtual" as an online magazine.

      Perhaps we do this because we know that a single edition of an online publication may cost as much as $100K to produce but a single episode of Enterprise or Farscape probably costs 5-15 times that much.

      So what can a publisher do?
      • "So what can a publisher do?"

        Continue publishing print magazines.

        It can work. Its a proven business model.

      • The crazy thing is that we're still happy to pay $39 a month for cable or satellite TV

        Speak for yourself, buddy. I'm a cheap bastard *all* the way around when it comes to content. Even though cable is available in my building, my 27" television gets nothing but PBS over rabbit ears and Playstation on the video-in. I listened to much of my music online via streaming mp3 stations when I had broadband. I've been known to emulate a console game or two that I don't legally own. I browse the web from behind an ad-filtering proxy. One time I even downloaded a divx of Fight Club from a LAN party just to see how good the quality was.

        So don't mess with me, mister. A seasoned content veteran like myself *knows* how to stay entertained on the cheap.
      • Online publications however, just don't seem to represent the same tangible "substance" as a lump of dead tree does. I suspect this is one of the reasons that few online publications have successfully migrated to the subscription model....

        We all *know* the value is in the information -- but somewhere, deep inside our heads, we're thinking "how can something that we can't touch, feel or taste be of any value?"


        This is an interesting idea, and I think you may be onto something. However, for me, I think the content feels less substantial not because it is online, but because it comes out daily. Seriously. I read the National Review, Slate, the free stuff on Salon, and the Economist daily online. I read the New Yorker, the New Republic, and the Atlantic Monthly when they arrive in the mail.

        Now, the latter feel more substantial to me. Partly, it's because they are - they're better magazines than the former. :) But also I suspect it's because I'm getting a slow, steady stream of articles one way, and a whole bunch of articles all at once the other way. It's like the difference between turning up the heat on the frog slowly and turning it up all the way at once.

        Now, the same doesn't apply for why I prefer paper newspapers to online newspapers. In that case, it is because I can't read it while I'm eating breakfast (no laptop) and because I read much less when I read online - when I go from front to back of a print newspaper I will read articles that I would never think of looking for on a web site. I.e., I read the Metro section in the print newspaper, I do not online, because I never think that there will be something interesting in there.
    • I gave up on Byte when it went from having technical and informative articles to yet another look at our graphs for these two similar products rag.

      It's not as bad as a ZD magazine, but a shadow of its former self.
  • by HaeMaker ( 221642 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @07:14PM (#4755279) Homepage
    While someone has every right to get upset at the sheer volume of political mail received around election time (electronic or otherwise), EFF and the Courts are correct. Political discussion is at the heart of the Constitution and it will be a cold day in hell before there is a successful law to stop it.

    As for Elizabeth Dole's decision to use email for communication to her (future) constituents, when there is so much anger over SPAM (eventhough it technically isn't SPAM), is another matter. If I were her political consultant I would have advised against it.
    • Funny, I don't consider sending out thousands of generic emails any form of human discussion.

      If political speech is exempt from SPAM laws where do we draw the line? Are only senators allowed? What about local authorities. What about if you're a generic citizen who is organising a political group?

      It's nothing to do with commercial, IMO, it's about the harm done, and that it can render email useless. It's more about the economics of email (that it's so cheap) than anything. If all political speech is exempt from spam laws then 4 emails is only the start. Expect hundreds and hundreds from every "political" cause.

    • by aardvarkjoe ( 156801 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @07:36PM (#4755411)
      It may not be "UCE", but it is definitely spam. The same arguments used against unsolicited commecial email are just as valid for unsolicited political email. (Primarily, that you are wasting the reciever's time and money .) I don't see any reason why it should be treated differently -- mass political mailings should be subject to the same restrictions as commercial mailings.
    • by Myriad ( 89793 ) <myriad@th e b s o d . c om> on Monday November 25, 2002 @07:54PM (#4755528) Homepage
      While someone has every right to get upset at the sheer volume of political mail received around election time (electronic or otherwise), EFF and the Courts are correct. Political discussion is at the heart of the Constitution and it will be a cold day in hell before there is a successful law to stop it. As for Elizabeth Dole's decision to use email for communication to her (future) constituents, when there is so much anger over SPAM (eventhough it technically isn't SPAM), is another matter. If I were her political consultant I would have advised against it.

      //rant
      So what if it's free speech? It's not free as in beer - and that is exactly the problem here.

      You can say whatever the you want, political or otherwise, but I'll be damned if I'll roll over and happily pay for it! It's my bandwidth, my system resources, MY MONEY.

      Be my guest and snail mail me your propaganda - at your own cost. But don't you dare try to hide behind the free/political speech shield when all you want to do is spread your propaganda on my dime. (I do realize that it wasn't "you" who sent said messages)

      By your reasoning I should be able to say to NBC, ABC, CNN, FOX, etc, that I want 10minutes of airtime to express my political views. Do you really think they'd give it to me for free? Didn't think so. Someone has to pay. Why should *I* pay for someone else's message?

      As for your assertion that is isn't really spam:
      From MAPS: ( http://mail-abuse.org/standard.html )

      An electronic message is "spam" IF:
      (1) the recipient's personal identity and context are irrelevant because the message is equally applicable to many other potential recipients; AND
      (2) the recipient has not verifiably granted deliberate, explicit, and still-revocable permission for it to be sent; AND
      (3) the transmission and reception of the message appears to the recipient to give a disproportionate benefit to the sender.

      Political E-Mail meets #1 no problem. #2 is no problem either - unless I asked for it, don't send it! Finally, #3, getting someone I don't support elected is absolutely in their interest more than mine.

      The law is an easy one. It need not strangle free speech, political discussion or otherwise. Simply make bulk E-Mailing to address, who have not specifically (and verifiably) opted into such mailing, prohibited - regardless of content.

      //end rant

      • Heh. Once they're elected they can send all sorts of stuff via snail mail at taxpayer's (you and me) expense. The 'franking priviledge' that congressmen get.

        I think political spam is a good thing. The low cost means that a third party can communicate as effectively as the two majors.

      • While in general I agree with what you're saying, it's worth pointing out that one could probably make a similar argument against junk mail that comes in your regular (snail) mail box. It costs you your time in the amount of time it takes you to stick it in your trash (and depending on how deceptive it is it might even make you open it), wastes "precious" mailbox/trash can space (I bet your computer's hard drive can handle more trash than the trash can I have to throw my junk mail in), etc. Yes, snail-mail costs significantly more to deliver than spam does, but that doesn't really make a difference on MY end. I don't gain anything by Dole or some company being forced to spend more money by sending snail mail vs. e-mail; it's still just as annoying to me either way. Not to mention the whole environmental issue (which, frankly, I don't really care much about but I suppose it might be worth bringing up).
        • it's worth pointing out that one could probably make a similar argument against junk mail that comes in your regular (snail) mail box. It costs you your time in the amount of time it takes you to stick it in your trash (and depending on how deceptive it is it might even make you open it), wastes "precious" mailbox/trash can space (I bet your computer's hard drive can handle more trash than the trash can I have to throw my junk mail in), etc.

          I have found that my local mail carrier is much more respecting of my "No Unsolicited Mail Please" sign on my mailbox than spammers are of similar notices in regards to my E-Mail box.

        • Ehhh, not really. First and most importantly, you don't pay the post office to deliver mail to you -- the sender pays. Spam is therefore like someone sending you junk mail COD. How long do you think that would last?

          Second, it's worth remembering that junk mail actually saves you money. Everyone bitches about the cost of stamps (with some justification) but the fact is that, at least in the US, the Postal Service is largely subsidized by junk mail. Without it, the cost of first-class mail would be considerably higher. So, if spammers had to pay my ISP to send me stuff, and I got a discount on my bill because of it, I wouldn't be nearly so hostile ... At a guess, charging one cent per spam message would probably pay my entire ISP bill and then some.

      • I agree completely, it is spam. However, if you have to have any success in regulating this, you have to take one thing at a time. What should be done is regulating business-to-consumer spam, like we have in Norway. If enforced, it could be effective for other types of spam too.
    • I think the court rulings regarding the right of the Hare Krisna's and Moonies to distribute religious propaganda at airports may be relevant here. In essence, the courts said that for free speech to have meaning, there must be places where it can be delivered and heard. So public places could not restrict freedom of expression except as regards danger (like yelling "fire").

      So, is the Internet a public space, and therefore should candidates have the right to use it?

      I say no, email is NOT public. It is private, in the same way that a FAX machine is private. If you want public, put up a web page. When you cross the boundary into my mail server, you are invading my private space.

      Besides, the Internet is global. Whose courts (and whose cultural mores) should govern it? Better to treat it like a common carrier and make it content neutral.
    • I think justifying SPAM - any SPAM - as free speech is total hogwash. I don't care whether it is commercial (UCE) or political (UPE?) or charitable (UChE?) or whatever (UWE?). SPAM by any other name still costs me money. SPAM is a collect phone call. SPAM is picking my pocket.

      If I claimed you must accept my collect call because I have a right to speak, most people would tell me to take a hike. Make the same claim for SPAM, however, and a lot of otherwise sensible folks nod their head and point to the First Amendment. Nonsense! Freedom of speech is not absolute. Just like a punch in the nose - your rights end where my nose (and my pocket) begins.

      Directly or indirectly, SPAM is taking my time and my money without my permission. The fact that each individual message costs most people only a small amount is immaterial. The fact that the cost of each SPAM is not itemized, but is buried in a monthly ISP or circuit cost is immaterial. Collectively, SPAM costs very real money. SPAM now accounts for roughtly 40% of all e-email. That's a tremendous expense, and it's growing. I wonder if the apologists would be so sanguine if they got a separate $8 bill for their helping of SPAM every month.

      IMHO, it's pretty simple. Yes, you have the right to speak. No, I do NOT have to pay for your desire to do so. Period.

    • UCE is just one subset of spam. UBE is a broader set that more accurately describes the set of all types of spam. If you don't believe me, try sending some (non-commercial) UBE and see how fast you get kicked by your ISP for spamming.
  • by dagg ( 153577 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @07:15PM (#4755283) Journal
    I propose that all lawmakers make their own data be part of this "Total Information Awareness" technology. They should test out the system on themselves before they test it on me.

    They can start by filling out this - Test - [tilegarden.com] and making the results be available for all. I'm sure many of us would be surprised at the results of some of our lawmakers. :-)

    • Once in power they seem to forget their prior viewpoints.

      Who would have thunk this was stated by Ashcroft?

      [Senator Ashcroft takes issue with administration views on the Internet and the use of encryption technology.] [state.gov]

      . . . . . . . The Clinton administration would like the Federal government to have the capability to read any international or domestic computer communications. The FBI wants access to decode, digest, and discuss financial transactions, personal e-mail, and proprietary information sent abroad -- all in the name of national security.

      . . . . This proposed policy raises obvious concerns about Americans' privacy, in addition to tampering with the competitive advantage that our U.S. software companies currently enjoy in the field of encryption technology. Not only would Big Brother be looming over the shoulders of international cyber-surfers, but the administration threatens to render our state-of-the-art computer software engineers obsolete and unemployed.

  • by The Bungi ( 221687 ) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Monday November 25, 2002 @07:19PM (#4755314) Homepage
    Slashdot's headline was misleading indeed.

    This is slander! This is not possible!!1! I humbly submit to this woman that she needs to get her facts straight because the strict Slashdot editorial process would eliminate any chance of that... happening... and... uh... er...

  • by ekrout ( 139379 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @07:21PM (#4755325) Journal
    People, even though I'm called a bit "cruel" or "callous" by others, I strongly believe in Darwinism in all aspects of life.

    Whether one's talking about social situations or, as in this case, Web site profit margins, Darwin always applies. I don't feel that people deserve handouts, Salon.com included. They already have a subscription model for their site, yet they still cannot seem to move into the black from the red.

    There once was a small site called Slashdot where all kinds of computer fanatics would propagate to every morning at work. It was also very popular with computer science majors at colleges. It began to have its own atmosphere, and many inside jokes were traded and laughed at amongst members. Essentially, Slashdot became a very valuable entity, and as such, other profit-making companies became interested in it. One day, a software company made an offer to Rob Malda that he couldn't refuse.

    The rest is history, people. Rob and Co. are doing great now and control the site in every aspect, while still bringing home nearly six figure salaries each fiscal year.

    And Slashdot isn't the only successful site. Many other sites, such as Yahoo!, make a ton of profit because they're smart and employ low-cost solutions (FreeBSD on all servers, which means they only pay for hardware and bandwidth). This is the future. Darwin is alive and breathing in all aspects, both in nature and on the World Wide Web.

    While I admire donations, I say this to Salon: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em (merge with another company) or go home (auction away your assets and hope to not lose everything).
    • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @07:28PM (#4755363) Homepage
      You don't like social Darwinism at all. You've just argued against it.

      If a firm manages to get handouts, they have managed to survive somehow, showing that they are adept at something useful for survival (i.e. getting handouts), and that is all that social Darwinism implies.

      Darwinism itself is a kind of useless null concept outside the bounds of history (i.e. evolutionary history). It basically states that those things which have survived... did, and those things which haven't... didn't. There is no "deserves to survive" or "doesn't deserve to survive" in natural selection, there is only "those things will survive that have found or adapted a way to survive." It is interested if you want to look backward at a kind of roadmap of development. It is completely uninteresting for predicting what will happen in the future or for explaining what is happening at any given instantaneous observation.

      What you've argued is that charity isn't beneficial to society. Whether or not that is true, it has little to do with Darwinism or natural selection.
      • If a firm manages to get handouts, they have managed to survive somehow, showing that they are adept at something useful for survival (i.e. getting handouts), and that is all that social Darwinism implies.

        Um, I think social [wikipedia.org] darwinism [talkorigins.org] is more about trying to rationalize social inequality using the theory of natural selection (and it has generally been discredited as a reasonable philosophy)

        Darwinism itself is a kind of useless null concept outside the bounds of history (i.e. evolutionary history). It basically states that those things which have survived... did, and those things which haven't... didn't.

        Sort of...it's more of a "those which were better suited for the environment survived due to the qualities that made it better suited." It is certainly not a null concept outside of evolutionary history. The theory is visible in all ranges of history, long-term evolution or short-term sociological. People have proposed you explain cultural information [vub.ac.be] by the same mechanism. Memes are created, evolve, and are left behind much like dinosaurs. The application of natural selection is used widely in many areas, biomedical research (phage display, directed evolution) to software (genetic programming). To limit the thoery to a useless historical adjective is rather short-sighted.

        What you've argued is that charity isn't beneficial to society. Whether or not that is true, it has little to do with Darwinism or natural selection.

        No, what was argued is that if you can't survive in a context (ie as a business you cant make money), then you are going to be left behind. The argument had nothing to do with charity or its benefit (or lack thereof) to society, rather it was saying that businesses, like nearly everything, are subject to natural selection.

        -Ted

        • Sort of...it's more of a "those which were better suited for the environment survived due to the qualities that made it better suited."

          Exactly. And this is an obvious, pointless statement. They wouldn't survive due to the qualities that made it worse suited now, would they? Just what the beneficial qualities were is a subject for useful investigation, and I said that. But were is the operative word here -- past tense. Anyone who proposes that social Darwinism provides some kind of insight into the future or even into present conditions is simply selling snake oil. If you analyze the "selective causes" of the present or future, you're merely analyzing things which either haven't died yet or haven't survived yet -- and you don't know which until it's all over! To draw any conclusions about survivability in the middle of the game using the selective model is at best a precarious task, and at worse... a Slashdot post.

          People have proposed you explain cultural information [vub.ac.be] by the same mechanism.

          I am aware of this (my degree is in cultural anthropology). But be careful -- the uses of social Darwinism are as a model for explaining the past, not as a policy matter for guiding the future. There is a huge difference.

          No, what was argued is that if you can't survive in a context (ie as a business you cant make money), then you are going to be left behind.

          But you are again misusing social Darwinism and natural selection in the same way as the original poster. You can't rule out survivability as a part of the context itself. If Salon.com "survives" due to charity, then it has survived, period. You can't say "But it didn't survive in the 'fair' way -- the way that I wanted it to!" because in Darwinism, the context is the environment -- all of it -- not just the parts you want to look at. If you begin to research anything from organisms to corporations under the Darwinist microscope but circumscribe your context artificially, then your research will be useless and your conclusions wrong.

          Survived is survived, charity or otherwise. "I didn't like the way it survived!" has nothing at all to do with Darwinism -- I'll say once it again.
          • I am assuming you are not using social darwinism in the social justification meaning, so perhaps we should use the term natural selection. [Social Darwinism: "Social Darwinism is a quasi-philosophical, quasi-religious, quasi-sociological view that came from the mind of Herbert Spencer, an English philosopher in the 19th century."]

            Exactly. And this is an obvious, pointless statement.

            As often is the case, something is obvious only after being pointed out. Natural selection is a perfect example.

            Anyone who proposes that social Darwinism provides some kind of insight into the future or even into present conditions is simply selling snake oil. If you analyze the "selective causes" of the present or future, you're merely analyzing things which either haven't died yet or haven't survived yet -- and you don't know which until it's all over! To draw any conclusions about survivability in the middle of the game using the selective model is at best a precarious task

            I partially agree, though the caveats are important. Who is to say when it's all over? You can see trends through the past to the current point and though it may not be over, there is still information there. Say you lived long ago before the tiger had stripes. Say you notice some tigers started having stripes and the ones with more stripes tended to be healthier and better killers. Say you noticed the unstripped tigers were looking more and more lean, more lethargic, etc. Do you have to wait till all tigers have stripes to draw a conclusion? No you don't. Your conclusion might be wrong, and you will have a better chance of being right the more information for have, but that does not preclude a reasonable analysis of the trends. Yes, there are assumptions that may be wrong, and yes, things may take a wild swing but that does not mean you can not or should not attempt analysis.

            To use another example, say you are a business that needs money to survive. Say you have relied on a source that is getting more and more difficult to come by. You notice that many other businesses with similar circumstances have failed. Do you ignore these trends?

            But be careful -- the uses of social Darwinism are as a model for explaining the past, not as a policy matter for guiding the future. There is a huge difference.

            Yes, there is a difference. However, I would submit that when you must deal with an uncertain future, the past often gives you the best guess. If it is either an examination of trends you currently see or asking a magic eight ball, the choice should be clear.

            If Salon.com "survives" due to charity, then it has survived, period. You can't say "But it didn't survive in the 'fair' way -- the way that I wanted it to!" because in Darwinism, the context is the environment -- all of it -- not just the parts you want to look at.

            I have made no claims of survival in a fair or unfair way. If salon survives due ignorant VC giving money, then it survives. If it survives because space aliens shoot beams of pure money into the salon.com offices, it survives. I agree fairness is an irrelevant term. The likelihood of either of those, though, is minimal. My point was that for most businesses, need to earn money to be viable. Yes, this is not always true, and there are also tigers without stripes. Those that do not find a business model that provides money (usually earned, sometimes stolen, rarely given) tend to fail. A look at the past ten or a hundred or a thousand years of business history will support this. Those businesses that don't have financial support don't survive. Natural selection means those that have a better system for getting financial support are more apt to survive.

            -Ted

    • While I admire donations, I say this to Salon: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em (merge with another company) or go home (auction away your assets and hope to not lose everything).

      I am less worried about Salon per se as I am the fact that the US media is ridiculously biased towards the right. Case in point right wing pundits get hours of airtime to discuss their 'liberal media' fantasies while liberal complaints of bias are never reported outside the few liberal outlets.

      The conservatives have an entire network and 24 hour news station. Can anyone honestly claim that there is a liberal network that treats conservatives the way Fox treats liberals?

      I suspect that Salon will stay in business, but most likely because some liberal billionaire will fund it. But then again this is exactly how Cato, Heritage Institute and racks of conservative publications stay afloat.

      It would be much better if publications could operate with reader support rather than handouts from billionaires, left or right. Before the right gets too happy with Murdoch and Fox they should probably look abroad and note that he regularly switches sides according to his commercial interests. The UK Conservatives thought that they had him in their pocket, how wrong they were!

      The one bright spot is Google news which has for me replaced the 6 or 7 news spots I generally read as a portal. With Google I can see instantly what the world press is saying about a topic - not just the insular US media view. I suspect that in time Google will challenge the power of the Washington Post and New York Times to set the agenda. So next election we might just hear as much about Bush's draft dodging, AWOL and DUI incidents as imagined 'lies' about visiting Texas fires with the head of FEMA rather than the deputy head. We might even hear someone state that the smirking chimp has not only broken his campaign promises on practically every issue of substance except those at the top of the list for the extreeme right but that he never had the slightest intention to keep his commitments on the environment, health or balancing the budget.

  • Dole... (Score:3, Funny)

    by c0dedude ( 587568 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @07:21PM (#4755326)
    As briefly discussed in slashdot a few weeks ago, Senator-elect Elizabeth Dole has been sued by a constituent who received eight unsolicited emails from her. He claims $100 damages including "emotional distress for having received spam from someone who should know better."
    Great. Now the buisnesses are supposed to regulate the government, I suppose. Someone should call her ISP.
  • Fatwallet (Score:5, Funny)

    by Aronymous Coward ( 619197 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @07:23PM (#4755336)
    The first rule of Fatwallet is you DO NOT talk about Fatwallet.

    Like, for example, if I were to tell you that on Fatwallet, you can read that on Friday Wal-Mart is having a sale on OH MY GOD, WHAT'S THAT MECH DOING HERE, IT'S GONNA CR...ARRRGH!

    (DMCA robot lawyer voice): ALL YOUR POST-HOLIDAY SALE PRICE ARE COPYRIGHT TO US, BARGAIN HUNTER DIE NOW, HA HA HA
    • (Mechanized lawyer enters the room.)

      ROBOLAWYER: You are in violation of the DMCA. Drop the coupon and back away. You have fifteen seconds to comply!

      (Terrified, consumer drops coupon and takes a step back.)

      ROBOLAWYER: You have ten seconds to comply!

      (Confused, the consumer looks around nervously.)

      ROBOLAWYER: You have five seconds to comply!

      (Consumer panics and darts a couple steps to his right, then back to left ending up where he started before the coupon and droid. ROBOLAWYER opens fire and shreds the consumer riddling him with bullets. The consumer falls forward. Cut to close-up of consumer, the coupon, bloodied, rests in front of his nose.)

      ROBOLAWYER: Will that be cash or credit for the bullets?

  • by linuxwrangler ( 582055 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @07:23PM (#4755339)
    My nagging problem with TIA is not that they want to be efficient about analyzing the info they have but that it implies an unholy collaberation between the military and, well, everyone.

    My question: Did I miss some law change that requires all banks, credit-card processors, ISPs, video rental stores, libraries, stores, etc. to funnel all their transaction and customer information to the military?

    The scope and implications of this project terrify me but I want to be rational as well. Without data, all the analytical capability in the world is useless.
    • My understanding is that there is already too much data to analyze, and no real way to analyze it effectively. Think about how big the databases would need to be, and how much CPU it would take to perform queries on even a subset of that data. (Not that this makes me feel any better about this situation either.)

      This would seem to be especially true if looking for "Terrorist Activities" as it's hard to tell what you're looking for.

  • WOW (Score:2, Funny)

    by eadint ( 156250 )
    The new DARPA projects are cool. think about the comercial value.
    unversal translator (star trek)
    BFDB9000 (marketing) (billboards)
    logical integrator ( twin towers massive)
    i wana work there.
  • spam? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dr. Awktagon ( 233360 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @07:36PM (#4755413) Homepage
    I dunno about this guy. He seems annoyed that he got some email he wasn't expecting. If Dole or someone sends me email, I would just block their address.

    What gets me most about the (real) spammers is, they LIE about their address, their web pages, their names, everything. They go out of their way to NOT honor people's requests.

    Recently I started receiving some leftist political newsletter. I don't know how exactly I got on the list (I think my address was pulled from a Cc: list that had me in it). I didn't sue anybody, I just edited /etc/mail/access and added the from address, along with a custom message saying "550..please unsubscribe". No problem.

    Let's worry more about the spammers who hide their identities and send mail through korean servers, etc. Yeah it's a fine line, but I think mass-mailing voters with your (noncommercial) campaign message is acceptable, provided you don't lie about your address or identity, or otherwise interfere with my ability to block you, and follow other guidelines like honoring remove requests, and not sending more than one message a month, etc.
    • Re:spam? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @10:16PM (#4756298)
      "If Dole or someone sends me email, I would just block their address."

      But then you'd be changing how your e-mail account works around Dole's e-mail campaign, not the other way around. You've got your priorities out of whack. If her campaign is responsible for abusing my information resources without my permission, it should fall to her, not me, to rectify the problem.

      "They go out of their way to NOT honor people's requests."

      There shouldn't be a need to make a request to begin with.

      "I don't mind Guido. He's a nice guy. When he breaks your kneecap, he won't break the other one if you ask nicely."

      "but I think mass-mailing voters with your (noncommercial) campaign message is acceptable"

      I will no more accept unsolicited political advertisements in my mailbox any more than I would accept somebody's political campaign putting signs up in my front yard/bumper sticker on my car/etc. without my permission.
  • by Eric Smith ( 4379 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @07:38PM (#4755424) Homepage Journal
    Courts have recognized political speech as the innermost circle of free speech protection, and groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation believe spam laws that interfere with it may be not just unwise but unconstitutional.
    That seems like an extraordinarily bad position for them to take. It's fine to insist that political speech is free speech and protected by the First Amendment, but there's no basis for claiming that it is "more free" than commercial speech. The First Amendment does not make such a distinction, and it would set a very bad precedent if the courts decided that commercial speech was less protected.

    What would be next? Deciding that personal speech is less protected than commercial speech? Distinguishing between different kinds of commercial speech, with some more protected than others? I shudder to think of where this could lead.

    Any spam law that covers political speech is just as constitutional (or unconstitutional) as it would be if it only covers commercial speech. The right to free speech does NOT include a "right to an audience", nor a "right to be published". You are allowed to speak, but you can't force me to listen. You can mail me a leaflet, but you can't force me to pay the postage. You're not allowed to enter my home to speak to me without my permission; similarly an anti-spam law (if it is properly written) doesn't prevent you from speaking, but only prevents you from making me pay for it.

    • It's fine to insist that political speech is free speech and protected by the First Amendment, but there's no basis for claiming that it is "more free" than commercial speech. The First Amendment does not make such a distinction, and it would set a very bad precedent if the courts decided that commercial speech was less protected.

      The supreme court has interpreted the first amendment to make some speech more free than other speech in the past (and rightly so), so why do you think that political speech may not be more free than commercial speech? Clearly if some speech is more free than other speech it is possible that political speech may be more or less free than any other type of speech acording to the court. I am not aware if any case law specifically mentions political speech vs. other types (anybody?), but distinctions have been made in the past so there's no reason to believe they won't be again.

      What would be next? Deciding that personal speech is less protected than commercial speech? Distinguishing between different kinds of commercial speech, with some more protected than others? I shudder to think of where this could lead.

      It's more likely they'd decide that personal speech is more free than commercial speech, and not the other way around. Some commercial speech is already more free than other commercial speech. Not all speech is free in the US, and it hasn't lead down the evil road you shudder to think about (at least not yet).

      -- Offtopic --

      Woohoo! Post 1000!
    • It's fine to insist that political speech is free speech and protected by the First Amendment, but there's no basis for claiming that it is "more free" than commercial speech.

      I believe there's a set of supreme court and lesser decisions going back decades or more on the division between commercial speech and other forms. Commercial speech is more restricted: you can't make false claims about a product you're trying to sell. Political speech, either from individuals or organizations, is a fundamental part of our system's democratic features and likewise is most protected, short of libel or slander.

      What would be next? Deciding that personal speech is less protected than commercial speech? Distinguishing between different kinds of commercial speech, with some more protected than others? I shudder to think of where this could lead.

      Some sorts of personal speech are probably less protected than commercial speech, or are even outright illegal. Commercial speech _is_ divvied up into different sorts with different regulations, especially where medication or narcotics are the products in question.

      The First Amendment does not make such a distinction, and it would set a very bad precedent if the courts decided that commercial speech was less protected.

      There's lots of issues not mentioned in the original constitution and the initial amendments, but the system was set up so that clarifications and reasonable exceptions could be made. Also, there's more to the original consitution than the first ten amendments, as in the stuff the amendments were being amended to...

    • Flavors of speech (Score:3, Informative)

      by MacAndrew ( 463832 )
      First Amendment law is tough, largely because it deals with fuzzy questions framed in an endless variety of fact patterns. There is a lot of balancing going on, and few hard rules.

      The distinction between commercial and political speech is one such compromise. (Remember there is also plain old expressive speech that covers expressive activity such as books and movies and nude dancing. And there's also speech that's unprotected, such as obscenity, criminal conspiracy, fighting words, libel, copyright violations....) Some conservative would have only political speech protected, leaving a hot debate over what kind of speech is political. If you want to get really strict, go back to WWI or earlier, when sedition laws were broadly interpreted and war protesters jailed for criticizing the government. Others would take the all-or-nothing approach you suggest, such as some left-wingers or libertarians. Then there an infinite number of shadings between the extremes.

      Here [freedomforum.org] is an overview of the legal doctrine of commercial speech, including a timeline -- I simply googled this journalist-oriented site and can't vouch for its accuracy, although my skim of it suggests it is quite objective. It has a general 1st A. resource [freedomforum.org] as well, very readable. The ACLU and EFF certainly have a lot to say about speech, but are more partisan.

      I won't defend the state of the law nor reject it wholesale, but I acknowledge is it complicated. I'm fairly confident that the commercial speech distinction is not going away, and that it is a useful accommodation in dealing with a difficult problem -- peruse the case law and see, and perhaps you'll agree.

      Enjoy! HTH.

      P.S. Ah yes, one more thing -- the thing that the 1st A. doesn't entitle you to a printing press, i.e., subsidies, is true but not perfect. The fact is that unsolicited political email costs us very little (yes, I realize we pay for it through ISP fees -- pennies), what a court might label "de minimis." And even if it collectively amounts to a lot, that doesn't matter for 1st A. analysis because you can only blame a given politician for the 8 emails she sent personally, not for the cumulative effect of 1000 politicians and political groups, and not at all for typical commericial spam which is an entirely separate analytical Q.

      If you still think of political UBE as an unbearable invasion, or complain about the waste of your time, consider that it is 100% legal for that same politician to call you on the phone or come to your door. (No, they don't have a right to drive you crazy if you tell them to go away, nor to keep sending emails after you ask them to stop.) Personally, I would prefer the email.

      Practically, political email is likely self-limiting because the last thing a politician or political group wants to do is alienate voters.
  • At least, I just went to the site, and the lead article among many others is marked "Premium only".

    It is true that all the non-premium content has huge interstitials as well as inlined ads for non-subscribers, but that's been true for ages now.

    At least they don't have popunders. Actually, I am a subscriber, so it matters little to me what advertising they do if I am not exposed to it. I suppose I should note that banner ads and ads down the sides are still there for me, but the really intrusive ones are gone.

    - target
  • NSA vs the TIA (Score:3, Informative)

    by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @08:10PM (#4755608) Journal
    I seem to recall that the NSA has had problems over the past several years, trying to sort out the insane quantity of data to pick out the droplets of information they needed to know about. This has been likened to trying to drink from a fire house with a straw.

    This was a major contributing fact in not getting enough warning in advance to stop September 11th.

    Now they want everything in the USA, multiplying the effect by an order of magnitude or so. Multipying it in the wrong direction.

    Imagine trying to find the one drop of pure water, while drinking with a straw, from a sewer pipe in Manhattan. Not a pretty picture.

    This with an agency office with a research budget of a few million dollars. Obviously Poindexter is seeing this as a growth industry.

    • Imagine trying to find the one drop of pure water, while drinking with a straw, from a sewer pipe in Manhattan. Not a pretty picture

      No, but the American Intelligence Community is up to the task if thats what they have to do to secure the homeland.

    • " I seem to recall that the NSA has had problems over the past several years, trying to sort out the insane quantity of data to pick out the droplets of information they needed to know about. This has been likened to trying to drink from a fire house with a straw.

      This was a major contributing fact in not getting enough warning in advance to stop September 11th."


      But here's the beauty of the plan for politicians: the information, although not interpreted, is collected. So when the "evidence" turns up in NSA or FBI databases after the fact, your elected officials can simply and easily shift blame to the particular agency in question. This isn't about national security, it's about job security.

      What? You say we need more interpreters and translators much more than we need information gathering? That takes too much time. We need our new knee-jerk reactions to terrorism and we need them now! Something we can point to and say next election "See? We're fighting terrorism here!" Now hurry up, before I miss my photo op...

      You don't need to see our legislation... These are not the riders you're looking for... We can go about our junkets... Vote for me...
  • by toupsie ( 88295 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @08:17PM (#4755635) Homepage
    When I think of Spam, I am thinking of UCE, Unsolicited Commercial E-Mail as does North Carolina. A Political message is a different animal than a Commercial message -- Constitutional speech. You could call it an Unsolicited Political E-Mail (UPE). But can you call it Spam? Are we calling any unwanted e-mail Spam by the impression that we dislike it? If so, then I want to sue my mother for forwarding me every e-mail joke she gets to every e-mail address I have -- just in case. Sometimes two or three times -- you never know.

    Senator-elect Dole's UPE appears to be generated by a 'Tell A Friend' viral marketing form on her campaign web site or borrowed political lists from local parties and initiatives. Watch out what you sign up for! Everyday, I see groups canvassing the streets, wanting you to sign up for a petition then ask for an e-mail address. You think you might want to hear back from them but you are going her from their friends in their political spectrum.

    The eight UPEs look like they were targeted to a person within North Carolina -- a Durham voter -- so I don't think her campaign was sleazy and used e-mail harvesters or "250,000 E-Mail Addresses on 1 CD!!!! $29.99!" deals to send out her positions on the issues. The 'Registered Independent' Ken Pugh's 8 UPEs were received over a three period where he was out hiking the Appalachian Trail in Connecticut and New Hampshire. When contacted by Pugh, the Dole campaign removed him their mailing list. Fair enough. The worst thing that happened to Pugh was he learned about Ms. Dole's stance on various issues -- what we hear all high minded 'Independents' want to know before voting.

    But this is more than 8 UPEs and $100, His $100 suit has already paid off without going to court. You just read about Independent Ken and flipped a banner on the financially deficient Salon. Everybody got what they wanted.

    Side note: I typed this post in Pepper so I scored a Slashback Trifecta. Dole, Salon and Pepper.

    • Actually it was $80. Oops. (I wrote the post.)

      Your analysis sounds very reasonable. You make an important point by noting Dole may not have even chosen his email, rather a friendly or malicious 3rd party did it. If she was not negligent in accepted email addresses without verification, then her sending the email was not wrongful regardless of whether "UPE" is unprotected. She also acted promptly when notified of the error, suggesting good faith. (Or so I would argue.)

      Clearly plaintiff Pugh has been spoiling for a fight over spam. Maybe Dole's error was sending him email traceable to her. :P

      I posted some yabber about political speech here [slashdot.org] that may be helpful.
  • by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @08:19PM (#4755644) Homepage

    To avoid First Amendment issues with spam, you have to address the behaviour aspects instead of the message content. Behaviour aspects of spam that make it bad include the fact that it is theft in the form of "postage due". So making the determination that a message is spam would be made without regard to whether it is a commercial advertisement, or political propoganda (both of which are, IMHO, protected speech under the First Amendment). That would make North Carolina's law a violation of the First Amendment, at least as I interpret it. It's probably better to just leave restricting and blocking spam a decision in the private sector (e.g. your whatever blacklists you might like). And if you feel that the First Amendment might apply to you, then avoid examining the content to make that decision.

    • IANAL...

      ...but I am somewhat versed in First Amendment jurisprudence.

      First off, the government has the right to discriminate against speech based on content (no unsolicited political e-mails, for example), iff the speech is taking place in a private forum (e-mail would seem to be such a forum). Viewpoint discrimination (no unsolicited Republican e-mails), is still a no-no even if the forum is private. (The relevant precedent is Perry Education Assn. v. Perry Local Educators' Assn., 460 U.S. 37 (1983).)

      Second, commercial advertisement is not fully protected speech under the First Amendment; it occupies a class of speech that is not fully protected. Restrictions on commercial speech need only withstand intermediate scrutiny, as opposed to the strict scrutiny that is put to laws limiting political or religious speech. (The relevant precedents are 44 Liquormart, Inc. v. Rhode Island 517 U.S. 484, 116 S.Ct. 1495, 134 L. Ed.2d 711 (1996) and to a lesser extent, R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul 505 U.S. 377, 112 S.Ct. 2538, 120 L.Ed.2d 305 (1992).)

      -R
  • Somehow, I think Linux users are the wrong target audience. Because, you know, there arn't that many text editors available for use with Linux. And there arn't about a billion Windows text editors.

    You could take that money and donate it to the ICCF Holland [iccf-holland.org] (the charity which VIM's author, Bram Moolenaar supports.)

    Microsoft employees just donated $2650 [yahoo.com]. Now there's something to beat for slashdot readers.
  • by waldoj ( 8229 ) <waldo AT jaquith DOT org> on Monday November 25, 2002 @08:59PM (#4755891) Homepage Journal
    Here are some choice excerpts from that Pentagon briefing on TIA, for the lazy, with the bullshit cut out. Obviously, you can read the original [politechbot.com] if you prefer.

    Q: ... What are the privacy issues ... ?

    Aldridge: There are no privacy issues.

    Q: Can you run over the transactions again? It sounds like every time I would enter or a citizen would enter a credit card, any banking transaction, any medical -- I go see my doctor, any prescription, all of those things become part of this database -- right? -- hypothetically?

    Aldridge: Hypothetically they would...

    Q: Every time they use a telephone, that call enters the database. And if it is voice recognition, for example, then that enters the database, hypothetically, right?

    Aldridge: Hypothetically, yes.


    When this goes into effect, the credit cards go. The checkbook goes. The ATM card goes. No more video rentals. The cellphone goes. Everything I e-mail out will be encrypted, though I expect that I'll use e-mail a lot less.

    Sucks to live in a Republican America.

    -Waldo Jaquith
    • I agree completely, but give me a break. The Democrats would've tripped all over themselves trying to implement this too, and the Republicans then would've made some fake gestures at not liking it.

      The only things the Democrats protested against was protecting vaccine manufacturers from being sued, because the trial lawyers donate millions to the democrats every year.

      There is no significant difference between democrats and republicans anymore, if there ever was.

  • "While we valued the prestige of a NASDAQ listing, this move to the OTC market should not affect our core business..."

    Since, you know, Salon's core business has nothing at all to do with trading stock.

    It's clear that Salon's problem all along has been that they saw their magazine as a vehicle to valuate their stock, rather than as a good or service to be exchanged for fair value. It's also clear that they still believe this is the case.

  • by bshanks ( 520250 )
    By far the scariest thing about this project is the huge all-seeing pyramid logo on the IAO homepage [darpa.mil]. Maybe I'd better reread the Illuminatus trilogy sometime soon.
  • Worry not, citizen.

    Total Information Awareness [darpa.mil] will be used for the security of all American citizens [aclu.org], watching over you with the compassion and leadership of a big broth---er, uh - a favorite uncle.

    Our glorious leader [af.mil] will leverage these tools to usher in a new era of safety and prosperity, unfettered by the shackles of complicated and antiquated laws [lectlaw.com]. Never fear, no terrorist will be able to hide behind the The Constitution [house.gov].

    Of course, we rely on your cooperation and your TIPS [fbi.gov] to ensure our enduring freedom.

    Everything is warm and fuzzy. War is peace.

    We now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

  • by weave ( 48069 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @10:13PM (#4756284) Journal
    This total information awareness crap means everytime you buy a box of kleenex, it's recorded.

    But get this, the city I live near, Wilmington, wants all residents to register their guns. The "conservatives" are screaming against it.

    So, I can buy a gun anonymously (between private individuals) in Delaware legally, not have to report it, and have the full support of the same congressional persons that voted for this homeland defense bill. But if I buy an issue of 2600 with my credit card, I'll be put on someone's list...

    Now, let's not let this degenerate to a flame about 2nd ammendment crap. I'm pointing out hypocracy here, not making a stand for mandatory gun registration... I'm making a stand against mandatory kleenex registration.

    • When Kleenex(tm) is outlawed ...

      Well, you know the rest.
    • I'm pro second amendment, but from what I've seen gun laws are very odd things. E.g., in one or more states it is illegal to buy an AK-47 (and other assault rifles, I think) if it has a bayonet attachment. No bayonet? Cool and the gang.

      Now, I don't know what about the bayonet, a scary last line of defense if you tote an AK-47, nullifies the deal. But from what I know, this kind of "compromise" by gun lobbyists is commonplace. Oh well. Sorry for the off-topic post.

  • by wytcld ( 179112 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @10:43PM (#4756400) Homepage
    "There is a concern that the Internet could be used to commit crimes and that advanced encryption could disguise such activity. However, we do not provide the government with phone jacks outside our homes for unlimited wiretaps. Why, then, should we grant government the Orwellian capability to listen at will and in real time to our communications across the Web?"

    Senator John Ashcroft [state.gov] - evidently no relation to the daemon obsessed (or is that possessed?) Attorney General of the same name.

  • by techstar25 ( 556988 ) <techstar25&cfl,rr,com> on Tuesday November 26, 2002 @08:37AM (#4758093) Homepage Journal
    Before the Fatwallet story this week, I had never heard of them, but now I'll probably visit the site regularly. That kind of publicity is golden, especially on the net where gaining unique visitors is so competitive. Now that wired has an article, Fatwallet must be getting tons of hits. Good for them. There's no such thing as bad publicity.

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