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Comment Lost in DC? (Score 2, Insightful) 289

How could anyone lose track of cardinal directions in DC, even for a moment? It's built on a NS/EW grid, with the streets named on a number/letter system. It's got a giant phallic symbol sticking up in the exact middle (which is at 16th street NW, okay, but that still shouldn't affect one's sense of north vs. west).

The only place I can imagine where it would be harder to mistake west for north would be Manhattan, with its street (EW) vs. avenue (NS) distinction being impossible to miss.

Comment Not a "Texas Court", a US Court (Score 5, Informative) 403

Just to clarify, becasue the lede is quite misleading: this is not a "Texas court". State courts (e.g., the courts of Texas) do not handle patent infringement disputes or remedies. This is a Federal court located in Texas. The scope of the injunction is therefore nationwide. The fact that it's in Texas is a red herring -- its only significance is that this particular Federal Court (EDTx) has a history of being extremely friendly to patent holders.

Comment NOT ABOUT PIRACY (Score 1) 189

AFAICT, the actual article has nothing to do with piracy. It's just about lowering transaction costs in your licensing business by using a standardized (CC) license instead of hiring lawyers. Doctorow seems to be addressing companies with media assets who are generally CC-friendly, but who are nervous about how to monetize the idea and so stick exclusively to non-commercial CC variants. The article describes a model whereby a for-profit media licensing business model can be built using modified CC licenses. That's it. He's not talking to Hollywood. He's talking to people who already know what CC is and think it's a good idea, but also want to make some cash off their media assets. I mean, Christ, it's in the first paragraph of the story.

Comment Re:What do they expect. They're the PIRATE party (Score 3, Interesting) 354

Clearly they don't understand very much, because if they did they'd see that censorship is a tool that's very useful to totalitarian regimes, and a dual purpose one to boot: silencing opposing points of view and hiding their own crimes & vices.

Again, I don't disagree with you. But are you really going to stand up and defend the right of the Hutu Power guys running the radio station to broadcast the locations of Tutsi "cockraoches" to the roving machete-rape squads? And if not, then where is the line being drawn between reasonable and unreasonable censorship? Is Lou Dobbs calling for Mexican immigrant concentration camps on FOX News closer to the Hutu Power boys, or closer to Thomas Jefferson? I think it depends on context: if the US were to see an drastic upswing in hate crimes targeting immigrants, I can see how curbing that kind of incitement could be justified. Germany has a very specific context when it comes to white supremacists and neo-Nazis, obviously. I live in Canada, which has much more restrictive hate-speech laws than the US, and yet there seems to be more accountability, transparency, and free discourse up here than in the US (where I grew up), and people are much nicer to each other as well. My primary reason for opposing hate-speech laws in the US is because I know that they would be drafted and enforced to protect specific politically powerful interests, rather than marginalized groups. I really do think that this is an area where the right balance struck by the law depends a lot on context.

Comment Re:What do they expect. They're the PIRATE party (Score 1) 354

However when the website chooses, without compulsion and of its own free will, to favour one party over another that's wrong.

You know what else is wrong? Selling people's personal information and bombarding them with penis enlargement pill ads in exchange for allowing them to send email to their friends.

Here's the bad news: private companies do things that aren't very nice, but not illegal, and actually pretty much inevitable in a capitalist system, all the time. To compare them to the Nazis every time they do things like this is, maybe, not so helpful. It might lead to a certain loss of perspective and make the speaker and listener both worse off for it. That's all I'm saying.

Comment Re:What do they expect. They're the PIRATE party (Score 3, Insightful) 354

Had Hitler not been imprisoned and seemingly "martyred" for his beliefs, he wouldn't have written Mein Kampf, and the Nazi party, unable to find a martyr to rally behind would slowly fade away ...

Agreed. Henceforth, we shall stop imprisoning people who do bad things, lest they become martyrs to the cause for which they were imprisoned, thus creating a fascist movement dedicated to (murder/rape/jaywalking). Indeed, we should instead imprison those who do GOOD things, creating martyrs who will inspire virtue in the populace! And all men shall walk on the water, and swim upon the land. Huzzah!

In other news, your historical counterfactual is ridiculously overstated, as is the argument it tries to support. Look, I'm not an advocate of censorship, but I understand its appeal to Germans, who understand fascism and the cultural forces giving rise to a bit better than, I daresay, you seem to. America today is much closer to fascism than Germany, despite the wonderful (I mean that sincerely) protections for speech afforded by the US constitution.

Note also that this story is not about government censorship, but about some guys running a website that shows you ads and sells your personal information in exchange for letting you talk to your friends and post pictures of your boobs. As The Dude would say: this isn't a First Amendment thing, Walter.

Comment Re:Zeitgeist (Score 3, Funny) 354

There are plenty of people alive the lived under them and remember a time when openly joining a political party other than the Communists meant jail time.

Dude, totally! And like, someday Germans will get to tell their kid about how joining a party other than the officially sanctioned ones could, like, totally result in not being able to get your Facebook feed updated with official party event invitations! You could only get invitations to events from some other person setting up a non-official facebook group for the party, which meant you wouldn't get the little blue background bar invites in your facebook feed! And sometimes the javascript didn't work right to update your Twitters, so you'd totally have to get it sent to email instead! Dark times, dude, dark times.

I'm sorry, but: do you really not feel that these comparisons are maybe just a little bit silly?

Comment Re:What do they expect. They're the PIRATE party (Score 1) 354

Outlawing thought certainly sounds crazy to me. But I have those "American 1st-Amendment sensibilities"

I won't argue with you, because I don't disagree. But if this is the issue with which people have a problem, then their beef is with German law and politics at a pretty deep level. Germany is much more restrictive about who gets to be a political party than, say, the US. Of course, they can point to this policy as one of the reasons their political discourse -- unlike that of the US -- isn't dominated by white supremacists (Glenn Beck, Strom Thurmond), religious fanatics (Scientologists, Christian Dominionists), and so on. Which, I have to admit, is a pretty appealing upside.

Comment Re:Zeitgeist (Score 2) 354

Also, just to clarify: yeah, I think this is a dick move (although I'm too lazy to read the details, so I could be wrong). But then, I remember Facebook having a whole passel of election-related gizmos last fall that only included the Republican and Democratic parties. As a supporter of neither of those parties, I naturally took this as further validation of my belief that Facebook is a stupid toy run by and for trivial people. You know what I didn't think, though? That FACEBOOK = NAZIS!!1!

Comment Re:What do they expect. They're the PIRATE party (Score 2, Interesting) 354

If you have a sufficient sized following and your trying to get into power to improve your country why should you be treated any different than the rest of the political parties?

Here's a hint: they probably don't let white supremacist or neo-Nazi parties sign up for accounts, either. Because expressing those kinds of opinions about how to "improve your country" is illegal in Germany. Which may offend American 1st-Amendment sensibilities, but given Germany's history, I can't say it's such a crazy policy.

So while I agree with you that the Pirate Party deserves to be included, the very broadly inclusive policy you've described would never -- and could never, legally -- fly in Germany.

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