Glathull’s Techdirt Profile


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  • May 29th, 2020 @ 2:01am

    Ummm maybe read section 230, Mike.

    But seriously, I don't know why people even bother to get upset about Trump's bullshit at this point.

    He's a fucking clown. Yeh, he said a thing, someone put it in writing for him, he might have even remembered to sign it before leaving the room to jack his hair off. but you know, seems unlikely. And it doesn't matter.

    Pretend 18-D chess move, Trump knows he's going to lose, so he hands this off to liberal judges to deal after he is gone.

  • Jun 19th, 2019 @ 2:32pm

    (untitled comment)

    This feels like a bizarre crossover episode of different realities. Someone ask Ken White if 8chan is RICO.

  • Jun 19th, 2019 @ 2:26pm

    (untitled comment)

    Why are you stealing all my fun? Google bad! Hulk smash!

  • Jun 14th, 2019 @ 12:49pm

    (untitled comment)

    "Dude! Your house is on fire! You have to do something right now!! Quick! Take this bucket of gasoline and throw it on the fire!!"

    "Wait a second . . . why would I do that? That's not . . . NO DON'T!!"

    "What's wrong with you? We don't have time to stand around and argue about the best way to fight fires! This bucket of gas is what we've got, so we have to use it! Are you just going to do nothing?!!"

    I'm so tired of every damn issue being framed this way. It's not just tech companies. It's healthcare, the economy, the climate, it's every election from the mayor to the president. It's every war on every thing from drugs to governments we don't like half way across the world.

    We know why people frame things this way. They do it because it works. And we know it's not a new tactic. People have always done this. Literally always in the history of people. But we need to be resistant to that manipulation. If someone comes and knocks on your door with some gasoline and tells you your house is on fire, the burden of proof is on them to demonstrate that it actually is. And you're probably better off ignoring them because--honestly--who walks around your neighborhood with a bunch of gas talking about fires everywhere? Arsonists, probably.

    Meaningful change happens slowly. No action taken today will have any effect for probably years. Bureaucracies cannot move quickly. That's one thing in their occasional favor. I respect the slow-moving, often-kludgy aspects of modern human systems more than I did when I was younger because they are more resistant to fire-and-brimstone-mongers telling everyone we're about to die.

    These kinds of "MUST ACT NOW!" people usually fall into two categories:

    One) There's a hazard. A risk. There is an unsafe situation that could, under the wrong circumstances, turn into a major problem.

    It's rare to see people being super alarmed about this class of problem because most of the screamers fall into category 2.

    Two) The house is already completely burned down.

    A week later, someone shows up yelling at you that you have to act now because your house is on fire, and we have to find the person who burned it down and a) burn them alive, but also b) put them in charge of safety inspections.

    To try and be relevant to the topic here about big tech . . . the problems with big tech are in the second category. The house is toast. Every person who has any online presence has already been profiled, consumed, and evaluated for potential monetization by at least one major tech company. If you have data online anywhere--and if you're reading this, you do--that data has been compromised. The house burned years ago.

    There is no emergency. We have the time to decide between starting a new fire and throwing gas on it or designing a house that didn't tend to catch on fire to begin with.

  • May 30th, 2018 @ 2:06pm

    (untitled comment)

    Not to mention Hulu. Again owned by content studios with no regard for the underlying tech or user experience. It's a flaming garbage-pile of whatever it is that shit thinks is fucking terrible.
  • Oct 3rd, 2017 @ 3:07pm


    It’s not carelessness that makes this happen. See my rant above.

    It’s about tech and business people not being able to communicate.

    It’s about people asking me, “Hey, can we do this, and how fast?”

    And then me saying, “Oh, for a trivial case, it’s done. Here you go. Would you like to move forward with the project?”

    Manager: “What project? It’s already done. Push it to prod now.”

    Me: but but but it only sort of works, and it’s massively insecure. It’s just a prototype. It’s proof of concept.

    Product manager: it passes all the user acceptance tests. Deploy.

    Me: But but but. This is a terrible idea. It’s not even half done.

    Manager: just get it out there. We’ll clean it up and iterate later.

    Who gets castrated in this situation? The engineer, the product manager, or the business manager?

    The bottom line is that everyone who stores user data is a technology company. But no one wants to put engineers in charge of anything. Because we are bad at being in charge. It’s a fundamental conflict between getting things done and getting things right.

    How do you propose that we solve this?
  • Oct 3rd, 2017 @ 9:34am


    Amazon does make it really easy to screw up.

    But that’s not an excuse. Companies have to take security seriously, and they don’t. They take the theatrics of security really seriously and think that the problem is solved.

    This is one of the many things that goes wrong when you put a business person in charge of your technology team. Instead of a technologist.

    The marketing doesn’t help. Everyone says, “Oh, it’s so easy to do this thing that you need to do if you just use <AWS service>.”

    Of course it’s easy to do it in the trivial, insecure, proof-of-concept way. And that’s as far as most projects get in the real world. You show someone that it can be done, and when that news makes it up to a certain level of the chain, then you get told to go ahead and launch. Even though the product is only a third done.

    No one cares. Just get it done. You bring up security, and people don’t care. Doesn’t matter. Get this out the door and move on to the next thing. We’ll come back and fix everyth8ng later.

    Outside of dedicated tech companies (who also fuck up like this), software is an inconvenience to the business people who run the show. They have to have it, and they have to pay for it, but they don’t understand it and don’t care about it.

    Which is all fine and good with me. Just don’t put those people in charge of your software and then get surprised when it sucks and your security is a broke-ass checklist that someone in Legal googled 10 years ago, and that’s the only policy you have.

    It’s easy to point a finger at the tech teams who make these kinds of mistakes, and it’s a finger that should be pointed. But not the only one. This is a systemic problem in corporate culture and how businesses interact with their technology teams. Everyone wants all the benefits of automation, but companies haven’t yet figured out how to integrate these things correctly yet.

    We’re still in the early stages of this process, and no one has figured out a good answer. And our very own darlings of the tech world do not help things in the slightest way. You’ve got agile zealots as managers on the one hand who build you a skateboard when you ask for a car and tell you they’ll iterate later, you’ve got waterfall people on the other hand who promise a car and plan a tank for 5 years and never deliver, and that’s just at the level of management for people who actually claim to understand technology.

    At the top levels of actual technology companies, you’ve got assholes like Kalanick, incompetents like Fiorina, and salesmen like Balmer. None of whom help make the case that business people should put technology people in charge of anything.

    There’s a metric fuck-ton of blame to go around for these security breeches. And some of it belongs to the low-level engineers like me who just give up after a while because nothing is ever going to get done right. But there’s also plenty to go around for shit managers who don’t understand what they are doing and naive business people who listen to and hire them because they honestly don’t know any better.

    The whole business is pretty much hosed at the moment, and I’m not sure how to make it better. How do you change a culture of willful ignorance? How do you change a culture of complacency?

    Will fines and penalties do it? I don’t think so. It will be absorbed into the cost of doing business, or it will simply accelerate the rotation of the merry-go-round of fools in management.

    Sorry if I come across as strident. I just quit a job that I otherwise liked because of exactly these issues. I’d rather be broke than be responsible for one of these leaks, and I’m pretty jaded and cynical about everything at the moment.
  • Sep 21st, 2017 @ 6:32pm

    (untitled comment)

    I just looked at a post on Craigslist for a sofa.

    Did I just facilitate sex trafficking?
  • Sep 21st, 2017 @ 3:52pm

    (untitled comment)

    Huh it almost sounds like maybe we should try enforcing the laws already on the books before we throw new ones out there.

    What a concept.
  • Sep 21st, 2017 @ 3:52pm

    (untitled comment)

    Huh it almost sounds like maybe we should try enforcing the laws already on the books before we throw new ones out there.

    What a concept.
  • Aug 27th, 2017 @ 3:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    This is a priceless example of what I was talking about in my original post. Thanks.
  • Aug 26th, 2017 @ 1:04pm

    (untitled comment)

    1. The problem with having a nuanced and tricky conversation:

    It's a shame that the internet--a platform that is so completely well-suited for long-form writing and discussion of nuanced issues with a broad audience--has succumbed to human nature in this way. Our basic human desire for quick, easy, simple answers is limiting the positive power the arguably greatest inventions in human history.

    2. a disclaimer:
    It's an unfortunate necessity that I have to provide a disclaimer to say that I'm not a fan of neo-Nazis, actual Nazis, haters, racists, or fascists. It's a sign of the sad state of the world that defending a person's right to express something I think is really disgusting will get me labelled as a supporter of that idea unless my dad happened to fight against actual Nazis in WW2 (which he did, bless his 98-year-old-ass).

    2. The problem with "evil":
    Applying the "evil" (and Nazi is basically a surrogate for evil) label to a group of people and then exterminating them to the greatest extent possible is the oldest and most reprehensible trick in the book. Our society has reached a level of development that it doesn't condone outright murder of the evil people.

    (caveat emptor: we do this all the time when the "evil" people are in other countries, and we call it war. I'm talking about what we do to our own citizens within our own borders most of the time. And I'm not making the case that the government doesn't punish classes of people by policy. It does. But I'm not talking about government policy right now. I'm talking about social behavior.)

    Pushing them off to the sidelines, limiting their ability to express their ideas, and perhaps failing to prosecute people who harm them is the extent of what we generally find acceptable.

    But make no mistake: this is the same operational morality that drives violent extremism, terrorism, racism, and everything that we want to claim we are better than. Kicking groups of people off the internet for having ideas we think are bad comes from the same internal logic as burning someone alive for believing in a different god than you do. I'm good; you're evil. Therefore you must go away.

    I'm not equating the act of silencing a person with physically killing them. I'm not saying that depriving someone of access to the internet is the same as murder. I'm saying, to be clear, that the logic of punishing people based on being a member of a very loosely and arbitrarily defined class is a universally bad idea.

    Regardless of how people want to spin it, the only operating definition of evil is whatever the ruling class of a society decides it is. It changes over time; it varies by culture; it fluctuates depending on the power dynamics of the ruling classes.

    Defining evil based on what a person says or believes or thinks is one of the worst ideas ever.

    The constitution, bill of rights, and specifically the first amendment is a genuinely revolutionary document. It shifted the burden of power to define good and evil from monarchs and churches to the people while recognizing that the simple majority of people can still be wrong. The people who wrote the constitution were aware of mob mentality and the human tendency to act like like mobs and try to violently erase ideas and people that were deemed evil by the angry mobs.

    And it was a good response to a world mostly run by monarchs and churches. The power structures have changed now. Governments hold certain powers, but the vast majority of policy is determined by corporations through lobbying, funding for political campaigns, and infrastructure leverage. Many aspects of our lives are not determined by the rule of law as defined by governments or courts. They are dictated through opaque terms of service, by the arbitrary decisions of individuals at the tops of the world's largest corporations, and by the mobs that express outrage on the platforms that drive their bottom line.

    I'm not angry or upset about this, and I'm not ranting that we need to overthrow a corporate oligarchy. I'm simply realizing that this is the state of the world at this moment. As a technologist, it's an amazing and exciting time to be alive. The internet is still the wild west. Mistakes have and will be made.

    The fact that the first amendment only applies to the State is obviously true. But the intent of the first amendment (in my opinion) needs to be taken into account. The literal effect of the first amendment was to codify the concept of free speech: that the government is not allowed to censor ideas.

    I'll go out on a limb and suggest that the intent was more general. That those who hold the power of limiting speech cannot censor ideas.

    That we desire to create a society in which punishment is only meted out to those who have been convicted of an unlawful action.

    That we recognize and embrace the fact that shitty people with shitty ideas exist. And that killing them, putting them in jail, silencing them, telling them to go home and die, DDOS-ing them, removing their ability to make their ideas heard is not the right answer.

    I don't have the right answer. There isn't a clearly right answer here. And we're seeing that play out in real time from the handful of people that control speech on the internet. Consider the difference between Tim Cook's response to this situation and the CEO of CloudFlare. Two private citizens who each hold enormous amounts of power, unelected by the public, with two very different views. Both are, by all accounts, honorable people, committed to ethical behavior, with very different responses to this. One quite sure that evil is evil and must be silenced, the other quite unsure about whether this is really the right option.

    At some point, we have to recognize how much the world has changed and decide what pieces of our governing principles we want to take into the future. What we want to protect, and what we don't.

    The internet is, for all of it's glory, mob rule right now. While I can't even begin to say what a solution is in terms of preserving some set of basic (and by necessity, global) human rights online, I can say this: mob rule is not the answer.

    We definitely need to take some of the following points into consideration:

    1. Bad ideas exist. They will never stop existing.
    2. The definition of bad ideas will change over time.
    3. Pretending that bad ideas don't exist and trying to get rid of or hide them only makes things worse.
    4. The most effective way of dealing with bad ideas might be to air them out in the sun, for all people to see, naked, in full view of the public.
    5. Private individuals and companies should not be forced to interact with bad ideas.
    6. Private individuals and companies should not be forced to provide service to bad ideas.

    If you read through that list, it becomes immediately obvious that the concepts are in a severe conflict. The right to have and hold and speak a bad idea is in direct conflict with a basic principle that people have a right to not service it or interact with it. And as well, the right to not interact with it is in conflict with the idea that the best response to a bad idea is to engage with it and argue with it.

    But that's where we are. In conflict. A fundamental conflict about what it means to have rights on the internet--to have rights across the entire earth.

    That's not a bad thing. The conflict and friction here is healthy. And I'm optimistic about the process. In the 17th century when we were fighting a war and killing boatloads of people to establish the first amendment, it was a bloody and brutal war.

    We're trying to sort out one of the exact same points of disagreement about the internet now. And it's not about the politics of a few individual countries anymore. It's about the way the entire population of the world interacts with each other. And we're doing it with astonishingly less bloodshed. People like Mike are writing careful articles and providing a forum for discussion. Many others are as well. It's a difficult situation, but it was inevitable from the beginning of the internet.

    We are talking about this rather than stabbing and shooting each other. It's an important conflict and a necessary one. But let's not lose sight of the fact that when my dad went to war in 1941, it was a literal war over bad ideas and one group of people treating treating others with hated, bile, murder, rape, and slavery.

    We are fighting the same fight against the same ideas now. But we are doing it with words on the internet, for the most part, and I think that's an improvement.

    I sent this article to my dad after I read it and called him to talk about it. I was really curious what his point of view is. He lives in Texas where I'm from, at our family farm, is a devout pre-Vatican 2 Catholic, and voted for Trump. He sent me this email:

    "I didn't sign up for the army and leave my wife at home and go to war because of what the Germans were saying or thinking. I went because I believed that they were going to attack us. Just like the Japanese did. I thought they were going to invade us and take my family away. I didn't know about the concentration camps when I signed up, and I didn't know what they were doing to the Jews. It was never about that until I saw them with my own eyes. I didn't know anything about why they were doing what they were doing. It was never about them being Nazis. I didn't even know what being a Nazi meant until long after the war. As far as I knew, being a Nazi meant you were trying to kill me.

    I was a poor kid who grew up in the depression era, and the army promised me a lot of things. And they gave them to me after the war. WW2 is the only reason I went to college and eventually met your mother. It was an opportunity to make my life better if I survived. Be a hero. Fight the Nazis. Save your family.

    The more I read about WW2, the more I get frustrated. Either I'm really wrong about what I experienced or the historians are really wrong. And it makes me question how much of everything else I read about history is wrong. People now act like we went to war to save the Jews. I didn't know anything about any of that. No one on the ground did. And I didn't very much like the Jews I knew at the time or served with. And the Jews I was serving with didn't know anything about it either.

    When I read about the politics leading up to the war and how everything went down, I am, at least happy with the choices I made. You know I was a medic, son. I never carried a weapon and never killed anyone. People made fun of me at the time because all the medics broke the rules . . . carried guns, fought, killed the enemy. We were supposed to be non combatants. But most of us weren't. I got reprimanded for treating German soldiers during the battle of the Bulge.

    From my point of view, my job was to treat the wounded and comfort the dying. All of them. And I hope I've passed that idea along to you in some way. That the people other people are telling you are your enemy are still people. I didn't hate the Germans. Even when they were trying to kill me. Our unit was so far out in front of the regiment, that we often got shelled by our own people. I didn't hate our people.

    We were trying to get shit done. Just like you try to get shit done every day at work. That's really all there was to it. It was my job at the time, so I did it. There was no ideology for any of us. We didn't even know what that word meant.

    I know you are not religious, but the Bible sometimes has some words of wisdom, even if you don't believe in God. Love your enemies. That's what I would say to any of the Nazis I "fought" in the war. That's what I did. I treated our POWs the same as I treated our own wounded. I don't care what people believe or even what people do. They are people. And people shouldn't die the horrible ways that I saw every day for 19 months in Europe. I've told you about that. You know what it was like.

    These clowns in Charlottesville? Amateurs at best. They can't even effectively enact their ideas. Yeah, when they hurt someone, lock 'em up, as Trump likes to say. Until then, they are like stubbing your toe on the coffee table of society. Oh fuck, that hurts. Then you forget about it. Shutting them down just makes them more angry. Ignoring these assholes is far more effective than responding to them. They are a nuisance and minority, and they will all get old and die some day. Just like me.

    I went to war against people with the same ideas who were better organized, more effective, and able to really create a political movement. These clowns are just what you often call out with your co-workers. No talent hackery.

    Let them have their stupid ideas. They are wannabes anyway. If they cross the line, put them in jail.

    I didn't go to war over ideas or speech or philosophies. I went to war because I thought we were being attacked. And that's what everyone thought at the time. I never thought about the first amendment or free speech or anything like that.

    This whole thing with the new Nazis is just stupid, and the best way to deal with stupid is ignore it. It's always going to be there, so just leave it alone.

  • May 18th, 2017 @ 12:51pm

    (untitled comment)

    This is actually kind of funny. Oracle is a great barometer for understanding where you should be, in case you ever have any doubts about what side of an issue to take. Everything that Oracle thinks is a good idea is a guaranteed bad idea.

    Google's motto for a long time was "Don't be evil." If Oracle had a corporate motto it would read, "Be evil."
  • Nov 7th, 2016 @ 7:35pm

    That sums it up for me

    "Nobody comes out of any of this looking good. Which, you know, is basically the theme of this election."

    That's sort of where it is for me. It's the night before election, and I still don't know who I'm going to vote for.

    In my opinion, they are both equally incompetent re: most things that I care about as a software developer. Neither of them has any clue about "the cyber"; neither of them are going to do anything about the idiot copyright or patent laws we have.

    From my point of view, one of the best and fastest ways to spur economic growth would be to do things that enable more people to take part in the world of starting legitimate software companies.

    More and better education of the type that makes good developers. I'm not talking about code schools that take 6 month and put an incompetent junior dev on the market who can't find a job. I'm talking about liberal arts, a strong empathy for a diverse group of clients that leads to, and the philosophy that leads you down a path of loving logic for its own sake.

    Education is a starting place for software businesses, but so is a legal system that doesn't guarantee that you need a *lot* of startup capital to protect yourself from lawsuits if you do manage to come up with a good idea and execute it and market it well enough for it to be successful.

    I think that education is likely to get better under a Hillary administration than it is a Trump administration. Odds are that intellectual property laws are more likely to get better under Trump. And I say that because I think that even though he's stupid and does exactly what this article talks about, he will unwittingly appoint SCOTUS justices who support his idea of making it easier to start and maintain businesses. I think he's genuine about that, and when he finds out that certain things are bad for that, he will do what he can to make that happen. There is zero doubt in my mind that Trump is genuinely pro-business. Except for when it's an inconvenience to him.

    Okay, fine, you might say. That's what suits you. These things are not only not available to many--perhaps even most--people. What are they supposed to do? And how are you going to help them? We can't just leave the poor and the uneducated out of the working pool, even if that is the direction our economy seems to be going. For better or worse--and I won't claim one or the other now--the direction our economy has been heading is towards knowledge workers. Not physical production.

    Well, in this case, I have to think that Clinton--based on actual policy talks--is the winner here. Trump wants nothing to do with the poor. Clinton wants to increase social programs, and that is a good thing. Clinton is the one pressing for better education, and not sequestering people into vocational schools. So I kind of like her. The ultimate end of Clinton's stated social goals is doubling down on healthcare reform, a basic income (this won't happen, but it's the next target if you look at the linear regression line of her trajectory for social programs).

    In a very strange turn of events, Clinton is the warhawk, which I want nothing to do with. And Trump is the one saying we need to tone it down overseas. I don't even know what to say about that other than, "Shame on you, Democratic party."

    As far as I can tell, we're pretty much fucked. There's no possible way that I can think of in which we get anything good.

    I wish I could end this with a surprise, "Vote X!" But I can't. No plot twist here. Just plain old, "ugh".

    Sorry if this is severely off topic for this forum.

    Only thing I can think of to say relevant to the article is this: "Think about the Supreme Court. The next president will shape it for decades." That's what really matters. I wish I could pick one that candidate who was at the very least neutral on some things I care about. Wish I could vote for a president likely to nominate someone sane. But that seems unlikely for both.
  • Oct 1st, 2016 @ 8:38am


    The extent to which ICANN regulates content (which I happen to disagree with you about) is exactly the same as it was yesterday.

    The IANA piece of the puzzle now has slightly different oversight.

    That's all. If you want to take up an issue with ICANN or IANA, nothing about the channel for doing that has changed.

    You go to the same place (the internet), and you talk to the same people. The only change is that our most likely corrupt and very definitely incompetent government no longer has almost nothing to do with it.
  • Oct 1st, 2016 @ 8:10am

    (untitled comment)

    This is a crock of shit.

    Do you people ever look at porn? Do you watch your network traffic while you open a single site? Some porn sites will generate 600+ network calls to other porn sites (and themselves) with just a couple of clicks.

    This guy probably clicked a naughty link on cragslist and maybe one or two others. Or maybe even a legit dating website. There's porn spam on OKCupid and Match that you can get sucked into if you aren't paying attention.

    That's basically it.


    And honestly, if I were on a work computer and I clicked on something I shouldn't have a couple of times, I'd blame the filter too if the sys admin came after me.

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