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Lessig on Obama

Posted on January 23rd, 2012 at 19:53 by Desiato in category: Commentary


Any liberal (or sane moderate for that matter) would be crazy to say that we’re not better off today than we would have been had Obama not been elected. Of course we are. But that fact doesn’t negate the (still ignored by Sullivan et al.) criticism of the President: That he baited us with the reform rhetoric, and then switched to the administration promised by H. Clinton.

^ This.

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  1. Hold your nose and vote?

  2. As much as I’ve been disappointed on a lot of things, he’s done the best he can with the power he has. For example, health care: the bill that got passed was pretty crappy. But it passed by exactly one vote, which means he pushed it as far as he possibly could. One iota further, and it would not have passed.

    The key problem is he doesn’t have the political support to do the kind of reform that he talked about.

    Maybe if the Left here would get organized, he could get that kind of power. Unfortunately, it’s not happening.

Two lessons from the Megaupload seizure – Glenn Greenwald

Posted on January 23rd, 2012 at 13:00 by Desiato in category: Commentary


But just as the celebrations began over the saving of Internet Freedom, something else happened: the U.S. Justice Department not only indicted the owners of one of the world’s largest websites, the file-sharing site Megaupload, but also seized and shut down that site, and also seized or froze millions of dollars of its assets — all based on the unproved accusations, set forth in an indictment, that the site deliberately aided copyright infringement.

In other words, many SOPA opponents were confused and even shocked when they learned that the very power they feared the most in that bill — the power of the U.S. Government to seize and shut down websites based solely on accusations, with no trial — is a power the U.S. Government already possesses

Has anyone other than Glenn Greenwald made any fuss about this? I don’t see any blackouts on the Wikipedia or Google sites…

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  1. I think the ‘owners’ of the site will make a lot of fuss, quite a few million $$$ worth. I also wonder if the FBI has thought this through well enough, the massive display of power could easily backfire on them when there’s even the slightest doubt as to the ‘evil’ nature of the site and it’s purpose.

    Then again, if the rumors are true that employees of the site openly discussed how to best aid piracy for the site’s own benefit (profit), the owners will have a hard time convincing anyone of their good intent.

  2. The thing that I think is most likely to backfire is the anger of people who were using the site for legitimate purposes, e.g. to sync files between machines or to store backups and who’ve lost their legitimate infrastructure. Imagine if the same thing happened with Dropbox. Dropbox is so widely loved and used in the tech world for legitimate purposes; if the cops took it down overnight with no warning, there’d be a shitstorm of protest. (I’m not claiming that Dropbox is a piracy hub; I have no idea.)

    The feds may be perfectly happy with this side effect–that anyone looking for legitimate cloud storage services is now going to look twice to see if the provider they’re using is also likely to be seen as serving copyright infringers. The more the two worlds stay apart, the easier it is for them to claim they’re just cleaning up bad guys.

  3. Here’s a fun question: what is the technical difference between dropbox and megaupload?

  4. Technical difference? What’s the technical difference between a U-Store-It unit full of old furniture and one full of heroine?

  5. Someone will kill you for the old furniture?

  6. Sue, that’s a practical difference, not a technical difference. 🙂

Irish journalist humiliates EuroBank technocrat who won’t stop ducking hard questions

Posted on January 23rd, 2012 at 5:24 by John Sinteur in category: News


In this video from a European Central Bank press-conference in Ireland, journalist Vincent Browne demands that the ECB representative explain why the ECB required the Irish people to bail out a bank’s uninsured creditors. The bureaucrat mouths bland reassurances, then asserts (despite all appearances to the contrary) that the question has been resolved. Browne doesn’t let up. It’s quite a stirring spectacle.

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  1. Doublespeak. Nuff said.

    Note: this should probably be listed under robber barons as well.

Poor Chris Dodd

Posted on January 23rd, 2012 at 5:22 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property


The former senator and now CEO of the MPAA can’t catch a break: “You’ve got an opponent who has the capacity to reach millions of people with a click of a mouse and there’s no fact-checker.” Must be terribly hard to represent the largest media empires in the world, who collectively own all the major newspapers, TV stations, radio stations, billboards, record labels and studios. How will they ever get their side of the story out?

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SOPA, Internet regulation, and the economics of piracy

Posted on January 23rd, 2012 at 5:21 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property


As a rough analogy, since antipiracy crusaders are fond of equating filesharing with shoplifting: suppose the CEO of Wal-Mart came to Congress demanding a $50 million program to deploy FBI agents to frisk suspicious-looking teens in towns near Wal-Marts. A lawmaker might, without for one instant doubting that shoplifiting is a bad thing, question whether this is really the optimal use of federal law enforcement resources. The CEO indignantly points out that shoplifting kills one million adorable towheaded orphans each year. The proof is right here in this study by the Wal-Mart Institute for Anti-Shoplifting Studies. The study sources this dramatic claim to a newspaper article, which quotes the CEO of Wal-Mart asserting (on the basis of private data you can’t see) that shoplifting kills hundreds of orphans annually. And as a footnote explains, it seemed prudent to round up to a million. I wish this were just a joke, but as readers of my previous post will recognize, that’s literally about the level of evidence we’re dealing with here.

In short, piracy is certainly one problem in a world filled with problems. But politicians and journalists seem to have been persuaded to take it largely on faith that it’s a uniquely dire and pressing problem that demands dramatic remedies with little time for deliberation. On the data available so far, though, reports of the death of the industry seem much exaggerated.

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U.S. economy unlikely to fully recover: Carney

Posted on January 23rd, 2012 at 3:48 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: News


Canada needs to look beyond its southern neighbour for markets because the United States economy is unlikely to ever fully recover, Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney said Sunday.

In an interview with CTV’s Question Period, Carney said that it is vital for Canada to look for new trading partners in the Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere to prevent the economy from being dragged down by the U.S.

That’s banker-speak for “Sorry boys, it’s been fun but we got a better offer.  See you around.”



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  1. He seems to confirm that tariffs need to be put on cheap Asian goods coming into the US. Surely, 10% would be adequate to shore up social security.

  2. Hey Sue (or other Canada-savvy readers), Carney also says:

    “Remember the ultimate speed limit in the Canadian economy is a little over two per cent, so we’re not that far off it,”

    What does that mean? Is it national policy to keep economic growth under 2.5%?

    @itspast@1: that tariff would hit the pockets of the low income Americans shopping at WalMart and the like. There must be better ways.

  3. @Desiato: I believe the target inflation rate is meant to be about 2%; that is considered to be healthy. How exactly growth and inflation are measured is one of those tricky questions that keep economists and bloggers employed.

    Canadian economic well being depends on the U.S. economy and will do for the foreseeable future; however a lot of “irritants” lately in the form of increasing border controls, your economic disaster, your inability to implement policy, and the pipeline thing have rankled. The Canadian government appears annoyed that, however far they bend over, they don’t get enough special considerations from the U.S. (They also snubbed the Chinese quite badly over human rights and haven’t really been forgiven. Beginner’s diplomatic mistake #1.)

  4. @Desiato: I don’t buy that cheap Asian goods are necessary for the well being of WalMart shoppers. The 10% tariff would probably not be completely passed on anyway. If you have a better idea, let’s hear it. I have not been able to figure another way out of this mess. Unless you want to drop American salaries to make us more competitive.