Peter Gerdes’s Techdirt Profile


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  • Feb 12th, 2014 @ 4:54am

    Can't Game The System

    There is no online system to game.

    You might game the dating system and date someone out of your league but that complex strategy calculation has been occurring so long the moves and countermoves are no longer strategies but are natural feelings about jealousy, clinginess, playing hard to get etc..

    All online dating tries to do is reduce the time needed to play this game in the modern world and eliminate some of the transactional overhead of dates that are extremely unlikely to work out by trying to offer enough info to screen out the obvious bad matches.

    Gaming the system is actually a form of improving the system!
  • Feb 12th, 2014 @ 4:50am

    Online Dating Forces Both Sexes to Overweight Pics

    Online dating has the peculiar feature that except for a few facts like job, serious criminal record, frequent drug use.... and THE PICTURE exhaust the things that most people refuse to give any slack about. If I shoot heroin every day and tell you I never do drugs you won't give it a try the way you would if I said I was vegan and kept coming up with excuses to eat meet.

    Particularly with sites like okcupid which caters to a certain social group the best strategy for both genders will often be to truthfully report those few facts misdirection is unacceptable (and paint them in a good light) and then mimic the posts of successful daters similar to you.

    This isn't so cynical. We all do it. A good gimmick, after all, is one that attracts alot of interest without drawing attention to the particulars that might push others away. So even if you are as likely to drop everything and try something new right now the way your friend is his successful description will make him sound fun but not undependable and you will see yourself in that. Besides, we really only have the vaguest grasp of how our descriptions are taken by strangers and we only find out from people they did well with.

    Excepting a few outliers most of the text can be fully ignored (and match questions often take so long your prospect has found someone else). That leaves the few sharp facts but anyone with a pedophilia conviction or serious addiction issues will look for dates elsewhere leaving the picture and job for evaluation.

    Yes, women look more at the job and pay some more attention to these incidentals...but the extent to which this is a desire not to be sleazy like those guys or a real preference is unclear.


    Besides this lady's fake profile said her favorite activity was convincing people she was pregnant. Most people probably found it funny.
  • Aug 31st, 2013 @ 11:39am

    ACLU Trying To Break New 4th Amendment Ground

    If you read the motion filled by the ACLU in the section on the 4th ammendment it is pretty clear they are trying to create new precedent. In particular, the fact that they go back to the original reasonableness analysis and don't cite any cases to justify their conclusion (just vague claims that it is bad and associated with totalitarian states) is a giveaway.

    I think new law SHOULD be made here but one has to recognize that it is an uphill battle. The statutory arguments seems stronger and doesn't have anything to do with the 'just metadata' issue.
  • Aug 31st, 2013 @ 11:30am

    How The Law Works

    And this article shows a deep lack of knowledge about how the law works.

    Merely showing that metadata leads to lots of info about a person simply isn't relevant.

    Following a person around in an unmarked police car reveals lots of info about a person too, even more if you watch them with binoculors at every opportunity. However, such behavior CLEARY doesn't implicate the 4th ammendment under existing precedent no matter how long or systematically you do it (GPS is treated differently for unclear reasons). Theoretically, the government could use half the population to follow the other half around, note everything that half did and feed it all into a big data mining solution and not implicate the 4th at all even though that would reveal tons of info about sensitive matters.

    The reason the government's argument isn't absurd is that existing precedent does distinguish between metadata and data to some extent, in particular it distinguishes the content of your conversation from the numbers used to dial a phone call. THE ISSUE HERE ISN'T HOW MUCH INFO IS REVEALED BUT WHOSE INFO. Since the phone company keeps numbers dialed in the normal course of business (billing) they would appear to be the phone companies business data and not anything you even have a 4th ammedment interest in.


    Don't get me wrong, I don't think the government's position is the one that should prevail but their motion is not absurd.
  • Aug 31st, 2013 @ 11:18am

    Absurd Story

    Also if you go back and look Peter Kind is just a crazy outlier. No legal scholar or even substantial fraction of any political branch suggested that Greenwald should be prosecuted for merely receiving a leak of classified info. Whether or not he technically violated the law is another matter (the law is much broader here than anything that is ever pursued or even constitutional).

    Certainly no serious journalist and definitely not Starr thought Greenwald should be prosecuted.

    So why have a story asking why some journalist did (what you suggest) is legally equivalent when that journalist and all but a tiny minority agree that what Greenwald (actually) did shouldn't be prosecuted and is in the general tradition of investigative reporting?


    Besides that small percent of people who think Greenwald should be prosecuted can easily point to the obvious difference that Greenwald is publishing what amounts to a raw data dump (filtered by him) from a low level employee unaware of all the issues while Starr is reporting a fact that top admin officials have judged won't be harmful if known.

    Hell, even Peter King only suggested that Greenwald should be prosecuted for revealing sources and methods and Starr clearly didn't do that (because she didn't really reveal much at all).
  • Aug 31st, 2013 @ 11:09am


    Umm, EVERYONE (even Syrian allies like Russia and the UN and every country in the world) agress chemical weapons were used.

    You only have two choices left now. Either Syria used them or the rebels used them. Do you really think it's more likely the rebels used them? Distributing chemical weapons is a tricky business and it appears a not-insubstantial amount was used and effectively distributed.

    I mean compare the effectiveness of this attack to the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway and ask yourself (ignoring anything the admin has said) whether you really believe it is more likely some scavenged/brew at home chemical weapons or the product of a (relatively) well equipped professional military?

    Besides, on top of the question of ability there is the question of target. It is perfectly plausible that Syria (not believing there would be consequences) used poison gas against protestors. Hell, the historical precedent in Syria is that when you have protestors you destroy the cities they live in civilians be damned. But, while perhaps a non-absurd strategy in the abstract, the idea that the rebels used the gas on their own people just to cause international response seems much more unlikely.
  • Aug 31st, 2013 @ 11:01am

    If the President Leaks it It's Not Illegal

    That is a totally reasonable rule since the president has the power to declassify anything he wants. (perhaps modulo some small areas about revealing identities of intelligence operatives and nuclear secrets protected by explicit statues but everything else is done by executive order).

    So the role played by allowing leaks authorized by presedential policy is not that it allows the executive to release information it otherwise couldn't. Rather, it is simply allowing the administration to make claims without having to make those claims official government positions.

    For instance, this allows the government to deal with situations like the U2 Gary Powers incident where everyone knows the cover story (meteorological observations) is a load of crap but for legal/diplomatic reasons it makes sense to officially stick with the cover story while still telling citizens what is really going on. Also, it allows the administration to make statements that might require long legal nitpicking if they were to be official statements and thus something that could be easily referenced in lawsuits etc.. Saying that we have electronic surveillance inside Syria could easily fall into the first category.

    The problems with classification muzzling dissenting voices all stems from the fact the president can pick and choose what to reveal while everyone else can be prosecuted for revealing what they think is appropriate. But leaks just cut down on paperwork here since this asymmetry would remain even if there were no executive leaks (they would just have to bother officially declassifying the info they wanted to reveal and nothing else and then examine the official statements more closely).
  • Apr 10th, 2013 @ 5:23am

    Re: Capitalism.

    >In a capitalism, monopolies and oligopolies are the inevitable end result in every field.

    That's utter hogwash. Study some econ. In fields with low barriers to entry and substantial risk of failure neither monopoly nor oligarchy is the natural result. Indeed, in certain industries the natural result is many small competitors.

    For instance in food service (restaurants) the risk of failure is quite high while the cost of entry is relatively small. As a result you tend to have many small independently owned (tho perhaps franchised) companies since aggregating many restaurants into one conglomerate would undermine the limitation on losses provided by bankruptcy while offering little advantage.

    In contrast providing high speed internet requires a gigantic capital outlay and has a fairly small chance of failure (you know people are willing to buy your service and once you've made the initial capital outlay it would be unprofitable for any competitor to duplicate your expenditure since they would expect to receive no return on investment provided they don't have substantially lower marginal costs...and in the high speed internet business marginal costs are a few trucks out repairing outages).

    High speed internet is a natural monopoly as a result and thus it makes sense for it to be provided as a municipal service as are roads and electricity.

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