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Oy, Democracy Now(!). I love Glenn Greenwald, but this is super disingenuous.

    And yet, all I heard from Democrats—not all I heard, because there were a lot of Democrats who supported Manning and Snowden and Drake—but certainly Democratic officials in D.C. were almost unanimous, under Obama, in saying that leaks—leakers should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, that they’re traitors.

There's the rub. Conflating "Democratic Officials in D.C." who were "almost unanimous under Obama" with the unspecified "Democrats" in the title is misleading at best, and dumps the burden of hypocrisy on Democrats in general. You know who else was "almost unanimous" in condemning Manning and Snowden? Republican officials in D.C. under Obama. The Manning and Snowden leaks didn't uncover partisan divide so much as they uncovered a philosophical- and frankly totally predictable- difference between those in power and/or who stand at any point to gain power and those who just want to talk on their goddamn iPhone in peace. Snowden and Manning, to varying degrees, uncovered infrastructural mechanisms for abuse that could be used by anybody in power to bad effect; accordingly, pretty much everybody with their hands closest to the levers- Democrat and Republican- cried foul.

Meanwhile, I know next to nobody in my everyday life- Democrat, Republican or Other- who believed that what Snowden did was bad. Okay, let's be honest, I know a few conservatives that still think it. Illegal? Sure, because it was. That's the nature of civil disobedience. But the general consensus on the street is that Snowden did the necessary, and that Manning's actions, although very carelessly executed, didn't merit the sentence. NB- Manning was put in jail by a Democrat, but released by that selfsame Democrat.

So it drives me crazy- fucking. crazy. to read Democracy Now(!) articles that try to paint Democrats in general as somehow hypocritical because of the above. Mainly because then all my militant liberal Facebook acquaintances, still inexplicably bitter at Hillary Clinton and her perceived misdeeds, wallpaper my feed the next day with articles like this as their next gem of evidence that the current Democratic wing is corrupt and hypocritical because Bernie.

This is not that. Everybody in power hated what Snowden did, and a plurality if not a majority of those not in power celebrated what he did. Meanwhile, the current situation has underscored not systemic problems that need to be corrected for the good of the whole electorate, but a very current, temporary administration running roughshod over the systemic safeguards meant to uphold the good of the electorate. Basic conflict of interest regulations? Naw, we're not gonna pay attention to that. Private citizen undermining current presidential policies via back channels to international rivals? See no problem there.

If leaks are how these things come to light, I as a Democrat- and a citizen- applaud them just as I applauded Snowden. That's in full recognition of the fact that such leaks are illegal.

The only thing that surprises me at this point is that rogue actors in the intelligence community up to now have (openly) broken the rules only to uncover abuses of power rather than to perpetuate them. Who would have thought that safeguards to civil liberty would have arisen with such regularity from the agencies who enjoy the highest abuse potential.

ghostoffuffle  ·  1459 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Can we cogently refute "stealing is stealing"?

If I sound like I'm saying something along the lines of "if you say anything to the contrary, you are simply trying to exuse away your own thefts," it's because within this particular framework, that's a valid response to the question as posed. In the arena of filesharing, "can we refute stealing is stealing?" In short, no. But here's what you can do: you can re-frame the debate.

    Every argument that the side against copyright has seems to be perpetually bogged down in definitions and assumptions and challenging paradigms

There's a reason for this. Me? It's in my marked interest, as it is for anybody who works within and stands to benefit from the current system, to keep the debate firmly on grounds of morality. Because, barring a change to the system, it's not only an extremely easy argument to make, but it represents the last available appeal to people who would otherwise bypass that system entirely at the expense of a few distant actors. You can get this by means that lie outside of my preferred marketplace, but if you do, you are effecting my bottom line. That's an easy and potentially powerful argument.

You're going to have a hard time refuting it, too. On the other hand, if you as a file-sharer take up the argument on practical grounds, your job becomes easier: "whether or not my actions are moral is moot; available technology allows me to assign lower monetary value to the stuff I want. The onus doesn't fall on me to ignore available tools, it falls on the market to correct for the presence of those tools."

Then again, I can counter (and already have) with the argument others have taken up in other IP arenas. Sure, you can leverage available tools to take my IP, and there's nothing I can do about it. But if there's no money in it for me, I'll stop producing. That's a market correction.

Anyhow, the question about "how to counter the morality argument" seems a bit off the mark, as you're looking to fight a very uneven fight. Which is why you as a consumer are better off reverting to practical arguments, as others have done. But then I'm not sure that road takes you anywhere you necessarily want to go, either.

ghostoffuffle  ·  1460 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Can we cogently refute "stealing is stealing"?

So just to be clear, are you denying the "anti-piracy" side their argument on grounds of moral simplicity? Of course there are shades of nuance, as many people here have already established. BFV and wasoxygen both have valid points within their discussion, as does thenewgreen when he mentions that stealing for need inhabits a different space on the moral spectrum as stealing something from desire.

In light of all that, it looks like you've oversimplified the argument a few shades. I've seen very few people other than, I dunno, ad men for "The 20" portion of my movie theater experience ever argue that "stealing is stealing, period." I've seen plenty more people supply the below arguments, pro and con. Don't dismiss one side of the argument based on (don't say it don't say it I'm gonna say it) strawman.

You know what else I've seen? The effects from the supply side. This isn't something I talk about often here for various reasons, but for the sake of my stance I think it's useful to clarify: I was once a relatively successful supplier of the kind of IP you're talking about. You know why I'm not anymore? Because more people, by orders of magnitude, decided that they valued my IP enough to copy, share, experience and talk about it, than people did enough to attach a dollar value to that IP the same way they would, say, a sandwich (and at much the same price, I should point out).

I remember being initially flattered by the numbers I was seeing vis a vis filesharing of my IP. Hey, this is great exposure! People like this stuff! This is awesome! That feeling deflated over time as I realized that:

a) A lot of the support I saw at shows was at least as much due to extensive label-side promotion, savvy product placement, licensing exposure, and good ol' fashioned elbow grease from me and mine than from support garnered from the fleeting online hype cycle. We worked our asses off, on the road, for the better part of the year, for several years in order to see the returns we did. Filesharing? It's great for immediate exposure, but it also facilitates a culture of consumers with very low attention span and an insatiable appetite for new stuff faster than you can possibly supply it.

b) Roughly ten times as many people just downloaded our shit over the period of five years than bought it. Resulting in

c) Our label not being able to afford more publicity support due to always having to dig themselves out of the red. Less publicity and general support from label = less exposure = less money for us.

Now, min_wage brought up the tour support thing below (by the way, I have quite a lot of respect for _wage's argument sheerly by virtue of owning it- steal for want, steal for need, but if you're going to do it, tie it to larger philosophy rather than some small-minded moral equivocation). In response: said live purchases are enough to support touring costs- transportation, upkeep, room & board, merch reorders, equipment repair, theft mitigation, management percentage, booking percentage... list goes on. Whatever net profit was left over, that was split anywhere between five and seven smelly, hungry performers. It was often enough to get us through a few months with some pocket change left when we got home... but not always. Money made on the road supports the road.

Interesting tangent: you know where we got the most money? Huge corporate interests that wanted to use our stuff to add "hip" cred to their product. The Man everybody loves to rail against? He was the only one willing to assign value to and then compensate that value for our work.

Wasn't enough, though. Now, if those that had downloaded our IP for free had instead paid for it- and it was pretty cheap, all things considered- I can say with confidence that I'd still be working at it.

I stopped doing what I was doing on the scale that I was doing it because I was broke and tired and finally had to find something that would support my family. So quit and stop whining about it. I did. I bring it up not to cry in my beer, but to highlight a simple point: the less you're willing to pay for the product you choose to consume, the less the producer of said product gets. The less that producer gets, the less incentive there is to supply product.

So if you value the IP you're consuming, it might be worth doing a little more empathizing and a little less justifying. Or else, jesus, have the stones to own up to what you're doing rather than trying to snake your way out of culpability. Is stealing sometimes morally justified? Yeah, fine, but you'd be hard pressed to apply those circumstances to this arena. Sure, you're not stealing a physical thing, you're making a copy. But each free unauthorized copy means less food in the producer's mouth. That's taking something you want at the expense of what she needs. And there will come a time when your very favorite product just doesn't exist, because there's no incentive to produce it.

My oldest brother introduced me to the phrase "gotta piss like a racehorse" when I was young. Given my tiny bladder and significant drinking appetites, I've since found ample opportunity to use it. Never thought about what it meant.

Then a few months ago- during the Kentucky Derby, probably? There was an NPR piece about racehorse drug culture. Yeah, it's a thing. It swings two ways:

A) Racehorses are subject to all the competitive pressures that your average Tour De France cyclist experiences. Correspondingly, jockeys will try to "dope" their horses if they can get away with it. And given that a horse is much less likely to object, they've been known in the past to get pumped full of all sorts of crazy shit.

2) The nature of the race puts all sorts of weird pressures on a horse's system, which is already apparently sort of wonky. Racehorses are particularly vulnerable to something called "exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage," wherein capillaries in the airway burst, expelling blood all over the fucking place including down into their lungs and out their noses.

So jockeys end up pumping all sorts of other fun drugs into their horses to curb race-related maladies, which can be potentially fatal. Like, mid-race-drop-dead fatal.

To control EIPH, they've been known to use Furosemide, which draws fluid away from the lungs. Here's a breakdown that does it justice in a way I can't:

http://www.thehorse.com/articles/29833/eiph-and-furosemide-use-in-racehorses-explained

Furosemide is a diuretic. Takes all that water and deposits it into the horse's bladder for disposal. Side note: it's also postulated that Furosemide is in itself a performance-enhancing drug, as it allows the horse to expel all unnecessary fluid and presumably shed a few pounds right before the race. Don't know the specific science behind that claim, or if it holds up.

So! A) horses are known for their prolific bladders in totally normal conditions and B) Furosemide is a strong diuretic. It all adds up to a whole lot of piss, most specifically in regards to racehorses.

I'm proud of this assessment because the news piece never directly mentioned the "piss like a racehorse" thing. Just mentioned in passing that Furosemide was a diuretic and light bulbs went off in my head.

I'm also proud that I can retain as much information as I did from a half-year old news piece. Don't take that for granted these days.

ghostoffuffle  ·  1603 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Mute feature: from team hubski

Remember that this is all under the sub-discussion of slow cooker food.

I think the problem is more that ISIS is an existential threat to the US definition of the region. Right now, we're kind of reliant on the western-defined state of Iraq as a vital balance of power in a region where there are otherwise vanishingly few stopgaps between US allies and... everybody else. Without a clearly-bordered, stably-governed Iraq, US interests are in big trouble. And it looks like that's kind of where things are headed without any further US intervention of some sort. Maliki is a bastard, but he's a convenient bastard, or was before he demonstrated a complete ineptitude for either fair governance or effective autocracy. But he looked so good on paper! Strong academic background, good wartime stats and a history of fighting our enemies while at the same time staying reasonably detached from anti-American actors, and his Shia pedigree gave him both a legit distance from the old Iraqi governing forces and a diplomatic line to Iran.

Without Maliki or somebody like him (and past star searches have proven a marked lack of those), and without the Iraq as we've come to understand it on a geographic level, US regional interests will fall into deeper trouble. And in that respect, ISIS is every bit as dangerous as people have been crowing about.

I like this article a lot, but I'm not sure I understand the basic premise- "ISIS isn't as bad as everybody is saying, they're just really good at de-legitimizing weak governments through show of force!" That's, like, exactly as bad as it gets for all intents and purposes. A government is only as strong as its monopoly on power- or at very least the illusion of a monopoly on power. If ISIS continues to dominate the Sunni-heavy regions of Iraq with impunity- and all things being equal there's no reason to think that they won't- then the Maliki government will crumble. At which point, the state of Iraq either falls back into the hands of those with markedly less interest in the comfort of US regional allies, or else the whole region falls back into an official state of fractious tribalism. Either way, bad news for American interests.

FWIW, I think there's close to no chance that we'll actually waltz into Iraq for round three. Domestic appetite for war is too depressed, our military forces are already stretched too thin in a time that we're supposed to be "pivoting" towards Asia, our budget is too strained to support the cost of another ground war, and Obama's official doctrine has been clearly painted as one of less direct intervention. Drones and air support, sure. Money poured into the Maliki pit, wouldn't be surprised. But Iraq III? Unlikely.