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ISPs Get "General Conduct" Oversight


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#1 Rythe

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Posted 27 February 2015 - 07:31 PM

It looks like the new FCC regulations are going to go into effect soon, whatever those 300+ pages turn out to be, exactly.

Which, as warned by conservative politicians based on how these things typically go, apparently includes a "General Conduct" rule for government oversight of ISPs.

 

So. Who wants to bet on how soon it gets abused?  And then who wants to bet on how soon this rule gets morphed into some Orwellian anti-"hate speech" regulation?

A semi-brief writeup is here.


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#2 SuperKuddlor

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Posted 27 February 2015 - 07:43 PM

I have no idea what you're talking about. Is this a SOPA surrogate?

#3 Rythe

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Posted 27 February 2015 - 07:59 PM

Not exactly.

The part of the US government that regulates our communication and information networks has voted to shift Internet Service Providers under a much stricter regulatory regime. What that means, exactly, has yet to be disclosed as far as I'm aware, but there's 300+ pages of it.

Previously, the US government has had very little oversight over what happens in and to the internet, and was largely bound to law enforcement and intelligence gathering activities. So the internet was able to develop as the leaders of the tech saw best without politicians getting in the mix. 

 

Soon, the internet will be treated like our telephone services, which seems like it makes sense on the surface, but in effect, has helped make those telephone services mediocre and expensive.  Politicians were able to set a lot of operating parameters and guidelines, which stifles things for various reasons.

 

It's also a significant step toward the US government being able to regulate content as happens in China.


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#4 foxbunny

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Posted 28 February 2015 - 12:45 AM

The whole Order deals with providers, not consumers. The Order is worded specifically toward PREVENTING providers from restricting access for consumers. The "General Conduct" section you're referring to specifically deals with the FCC having a standard by which to determine if a provider is doing something that prevents consumers from accessing content.

 

Remember that the FCC regulates all communications. Cell phones, for example, have flourished under FCC rules. Television, too. You can say whatever you like on a cell phone and watch a variety of programs from Little House on the Prairie to hardcore pornography. 

 

Remember that the Order is a result of the problems the Order addresses. Time Warner blocking access to Netflix, for example. 



#5 Adair

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Posted 28 February 2015 - 01:58 AM

Now, what REALLY needs to happen is currently ISPs are allowed to make monopolies in areas, under a couple of FCC bills.

That needs to go away, because that would allow for competition, so if one ISP was being evil, you could easily go to another (as you -kind of- can with cell phones...).


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#6 Thomas Maltuin

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Posted 28 February 2015 - 03:17 AM

Now, what REALLY needs to happen is currently ISPs are allowed to make monopolies in areas, under a couple of FCC bills.
That needs to go away, because that would allow for competition, so if one ISP was being evil, you could easily go to another (as you -kind of- can with cell phones...).

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#7 foxbunny

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Posted 28 February 2015 - 03:37 AM

Now, what REALLY needs to happen is currently ISPs are allowed to make monopolies in areas, under a couple of FCC bills.

That needs to go away, because that would allow for competition, so if one ISP was being evil, you could easily go to another (as you -kind of- can with cell phones...).

 

Even if you do have a choice, the money goes back to the same few companies ultimately.The reason our internet speeds are so slow for the price compared to, well, pretty much everywhere else in the world is because there is no reason for the companies to bother investing in rapid upgrades because of the stranglehold they have on the market (same reason we use Swipe over the the far more secure Chip and PIN like pretty much the rest of the world). 



#8 Rythe

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Posted 28 February 2015 - 07:51 PM

Which is why I've been specifying ISPs, Foxbunny.

But let me spell out how this could work, and likely will given the quality of our political establishment these days. There's an "impact on free expression" piece to the "general conduct" rules. Now normally, we'd go "Ahah! Freedom of expression is protected!", but the reality is very different.

Case in point are US universities, which are suppose to be havens for discourse and debate but some have taken up the practice of designating small, out of the way 'free speech zones' for the discourse and debate that they feel will make some students uncomfortable. Some others have made blanket 'hate speech' rules where certain opinions aren't considered 'free speech' and excluded from the classrooms and such. So what we have here is 'freedom of expression' in theory, in lipservice, because it only applies when it's convenient to the people in power. If that's the approach our universities are starting to take, even public universities, how much do you think our Freedom of Expression is really going to mean in the near future?

 

The other problem is the 'yelling fire in a crowded theater' exemption to our right to the Freedom of Expression. If there is no fire, you're breaking the law, as doing so can cause injury and such. It's an exemption based on public safety, and it's an exemption that some are trying to turn into an exemption for what they consider 'hate speech'.

 

And since ISPs are and will continued to be allowed to filter out bot and criminal traffic (as far as I know), it's a very small step for the US government regulators to have them filter out 'terrorist websites' and then it will be a small step for them to filter out 'hate websites' both of which will sometimes have the funny habit of resembling the websites of political opponents at some point in the future. It's not suppose to happen that way, but our political class won't be able to help themselves.  See the IRS scandal of recent years.  

 

Which is another part of the problem. This general conduct rule may work in the hands of the right people, but in the hands of government underlings, there will be people who twist and abuse it to their own ends. For the most part, over time, they'll get away with it too.  See 'activist judges'.

 

So once the FCC creates the capability to regulate how the ISPs regulate content, these things will happen at some point in the future, mark my words. The short version of the because is that it's already happened in other government entities. If the IRS scandal wasn't enough, you can check out what the EPA has been up to. If that isn't enough, check out the time the FCC itself tried to place government monitors in news rooms for 'research'.

 

-

Now let me answer a part of the reason internet in the US is lagging behind parts of the developed world. 

 

First of all, the US has had to go through pretty much all the growing pains, from Dialup to DSL to Cable to Satellite to Cellular to the future. That's a lot of investment in temporary tech.

 

Secondly, the US is a massive chunk of land with a very dispersed population. It's easy for nations like Japan and Taiwan to put in the latest and greatest when they're the size of Texas (at worst), have very dense population centers, and have a very tech-centric culture, as opposed to, say, the situation in the actual Texas, nevermind the whole of the US.  The infrastructure investment in the places the US is often compared to was very small with a much greater return than what the US has to deal with, so it's not a valid comparison.

 

Thirdly, let's go back to that FCC piece. Isn't it ironic that the ISPs are taking over the phone business with their digital offerings as opposed to the established phone companies taking over the internet business? I submit that a good part of that is that 'ISPs' wren't regulated nearly as hard as the established phone companies.

 

Fourthly, Cell Phones have not 'flourished' under FCC rules. I have Sprint, and the service has this funny habit of bouncing me around towers and kicking me off for mild to moderate data usage, even in areas with 'decent' coverage and 4G capabilities. Most areas are spotty, even when they shouldn't be, and cities the size of Albuquerque still have very limited 4G coverage. It's also far too expensive for what I'm paying for. The only reason cellular services have 'flourished' is because the tech is so useful that the US puts up with the crap, expensive services we have in the states. The reality is that those services are incredibly behind the demand curve for what we do with them and what we want to do with them. I have more faith in and better experiences with cable providers than cellular providers, which is about as big an insult as can be given to a service provider in the US.  And given the trends with crap service and government involvement, the government involvement is probably a big part of the 'crap' there.

 

-

 

What should have happened instead of the FCC regulatory takeover thing is a simple, straightforward law that prohibits ISPs from charging content providers for priority access, prohibits ISPs from artificially throttling down transfer speeds for legal content providers, and prohibits ISPs from charging special rates for certain kinds of content.

What we got was 300+ pages of mystery that will let naive (at best) politicians dictate the future of the internet in the US.

The flip side of the coin is what this situation suggests about our ISPs, that maybe one of the big reasons this is even an issue is because the internet's infrastructure in the US is struggling with the demands that video streaming is placing on it. Which goes back to the expense of covering a piece of land the size of the US with the latest, or even somewhat latest, bit of ISP tech.  The money has to come from somewhere.

 

-

 

And speaking of monopolies. A healthy capitalistic system would have enough competition that an ISP would never get away with breaking the net neutrality concept. People would flock to the competition in protest, and the government wouldn't have to do anything about it.  The situation in the US with ISPs (along with a few other sectors that could be mentioned), is not the picture of a healthy capitalistic system. Not even a little bit. I'm sure someone in the know could go to great lengths on why that is, but that person isn't me.

Which is also to say, the government did have to step in a little bit here.  But to reiterate, the problem is that instead of stepping in a little bit, the government decided to jump in all the way and go full on, big brother mode with all the horrors that entails.


Edited by Rythe, 28 February 2015 - 08:09 PM.

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#9 James SilverWolf

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Posted 28 February 2015 - 08:01 PM

As far as my experience goes, any time something with the word "federal" in it starts monkeying with something, it tends to turn out badly (same with when something is run by  "department") The corporate vipers are bad, but then we must remember that the federal government is also such a megalomaniacal corporation. I don't know that they'd go as far as issuing licenses to use the internet (very hard to get kids exposed to porn that way, their leaders can't have that.) but they may try to work something that makes things more difficult or bothersome.

 

One thing I'd like to see gone is "throttling" wherein an ISP can bump your connection over to an extreme slow-lane to a point where even simple pictures and some measure of content won't load (ala wild blue, who is a big offender.) and where you have to "buy additional data" in order to get regular connectivity again... That is outright extortion ala mafia-style "insurance".  I would hope the FCC would do away with that, but given what federal agencies tend to do to whatever they get involved in (Remember, those blue-suited government-paid thugs that feel up men, women, and children at the airports are actually a federal agency, and the airlines worked better and more efficiently prior to their gestapo department existing.) I can't say I am encouraged, I do expect some manner of sneaky, underhanded, dishonorable, or otherwise totalitarian thuggery to show up eventually, my hopes are not high.

 

P.S. Edit: Apparently Rythe already covered the throttling as I was writing... haha Anyway... It would be good if somsone could dig up that piece of legislation so that the citizenry could review it as well... I note that public intelligence has not yet picked up anything... neither has Cryptome... I do wonder if it can be found through govtrack.us (yes creepy name, it also used to have an eye in a triangle for a logo, but its just a lamer mirror of the library of Congress' THOMAS service.)


Edited by James SilverWolf, 28 February 2015 - 08:14 PM.

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#10 foxbunny

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Posted 01 March 2015 - 12:17 AM

You're entitled to your opinions. I simply disagree.



#11 James SilverWolf

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Posted 01 March 2015 - 07:59 PM

Well Foxbunny, if it does turn out well, it will most certainly exceed my expectations at the very least, and will be a pleasant surprise. ^.^


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#12 foxbunny

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Posted 01 March 2015 - 09:35 PM

The internet isn't where it is because of competition. It has grown because of cooperation. Massive cooperation. International agreement to a set of standards and protocols. Interconnection of networks from different companies. And the FCC has been involved during that process, intentionally staying out of the way of what was working and offering guidance about potential problems. The internet as we have it now is the result of almost half a century of work by people from all around the world (including governments). When someone resisted, they were such a small part that they eventually had to give in. Now there are regional players who have enough power to make unilateral moves.

 

Most simplistically, the FCC was established to make sure that when you pick up your phone you can call your Aunt Sierra regardless of what phone carrier she has. Similarly, since the first US computer network was established in 1969, has been the authority over internet communications in the US and has been there to ensure that the same access happens. Until recently, that hasn't been an issue, so the FCC hasn't really done anything (they didn't have to).

 

The problem is that companies are trying to stop working together. They are trying to cut networks into pieces and prevent access to content a consumer would otherwise be able to access. The Open Internet Order is a response to businesses deciding that they don't want an Open Internet because they can make more money by preventing their users from accessing outside content. The FCC has been doing a lot to allow a free market to develop, but businesses only like a free market when it benefits them. Monopolies are actually the goal of corporations--no competition=getting all the profit. See: pretty much every large company that has bought a smaller company in their industry and proceed to "restructure" it (shut it down and lay everyone off).

 

If the goal was to prevent access to particular content, the FCC has been working to the exact opposite effect for almost half a century.

 

My problem with the whole "the government's out to get us" is 1) the fact that the government is so inefficient that it has a hard time making budgets and 2) the fact that such outcry is nothing more than fear mongering. It's fear porn. We get so excited about being under attack that we have to make up threats. It's like a social version of the hygiene hypothesis.

 

And as a side note: slander, libel, false advertising, making threats, inciting a riot, verbal assault, using obscene language in public, and perjury (among other things) are also restricted speech. Like if you said "this person is x" when that's not true and the statement would serve to harm that person's image you're committing slander (and if you write it, it's libel).



#13 Rythe

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Posted 04 March 2015 - 07:12 PM

Let me answer your point 2, because there at least, you've overlooked what I said.

It's an easy and lazy defense to say your opponents are doing nothing but 'fear mongering'. I could say that about the Global Warming Alarmism crowd, and while I think it's true, simply leaving it at that is insufficient and not a real argument. To make a valid point, I would also have to get into the effects of CO2, the history of CO2 levels, the flaws in the models that support the Alarmism crowd, the history of the climate in general, and should especially talk about the solutions being offered and their effects on the situation.

 

But to the FCC matter, I did not simply say 'these horrible things could happen because government'. I said 'these things could happen because they already have and continue to happen within the US government'.

 

So to your claim of fear mongering, I should ask you at what point does rampant, obvious, and publicly documented corruption matter?

And I haven't even brought up the Affordable Care Act, the Google-CIA-NSA spying story, and the Benghazi story where the US government is on record for lying to us.

-edit-

Oh, and one other point. The problem isn't that some companies are trying to stop cooperating which would segment the internet, because that is a situation people won't put up with. The problem is that some companies are trying to put toll roads into the internet and some are using extortion to do it, which said companies might get away with if people don't know about it.

The other thing is not all corporations want monopolies, and that is not a fundamental aspect of their design but more a reflection of general human greed and powerlust that can infect anything. There you simply are fear mongering, so I suggest if you want to use the tactic, don't try to call other people out on it at the same time.

You are right that cooperation is what has helped the internet be what it is today, you are also right that the FCC has kept a light touch on internet things and it has worked up until this point.

The problem is, again, that the FCC have decided not to use that light touch anymore. Instead, they have decided that they need to be in the middle of everything, that they need to have much greater control because their previous light touch was too successful or something.  This net neutrality/toll road thing is another moment where a light touch is all that is needed, but they have decided to do something much, much more involved instead. 


Edited by Rythe, 04 March 2015 - 07:50 PM.

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#14 foxbunny

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Posted 04 March 2015 - 08:51 PM

I'm not saying my opponents (people who hold a different opinion that I do on this) are fear mongering. I'm saying that people who are making broad generalizations because of their extremist position are fear mongering.

 

If you have a cyst on your hand you don't need to cut off your arm. That's extreme. What if we looked at the Church the same way? Pedophilia, pornography, extortion, fornication, etc, etc, etc. An extreme view would point to these problems as not limited to certain individuals within the Church, but as a normal part of the Church. And people do make this argument. They say that Christians lie and point to a stack of evidence of this. They say that Christians are violent by pointing to another stack. These are not isolated incidents, mind you. Yet, I would not be willing to say that all of one group, by virtue of being associated with that group, must be like my prejudice about that group.

 

The difference between fear mongering and presenting facts. Name a corporation that, in its public or private statements has been happy about a new entry to the market whose presence has resulted in a decline in profits, has been happy to lose market share. Note that I didn't say that "a fundamental aspect of their design" is that corporations want to be monopolies, only that it's true, which you admit as well when you state that this is a result of "general human greed and powerlust that can affect anything." Saying x will lead to 7 is not the same as saying x is a fact. Can we see that? Corporations, had they their druthers, want 100% marketshare. This is not disputable. And monopolies sometimes work as the most efficient means to provide a product or service (imagine companies competing to provide water throughout a city). So, that's the opposite of fear mongering. That's stating verifiable fact. We (I hope) will notice the distinct difference between the verifiable fact that Corporations want 100% marketshare (i.e. to become monopolies) and the implications of the statement "So. Who wants to bet on how soon it gets abused?  And then who wants to bet on how soon this rule gets morphed into some Orwellian anti-"hate speech" regulation?" Can we see the difference? Known fact versus assumptive speculation of bad results. Not the same.

 

Saying that an organization will not be able to properly fulfill it's role based on its track record is a valid argument. Saying that the ACA (or spying, or whatnot) is evidence that the FCC will force ISPs to block websites despite the FCC's decades' long track record of doing its job well... Non sequitur. In order for that to make sense there needs to be a cohesion in the government. Instead we have alphabet soup. FCC NSA DHS FEMA NEA ETC all run by different people. Having worked in a corporation I know that the CEO knows jack about what goes on in any department. He's the top guy and he's beholden to the board of directors. If we parallel that, we still have one CEO (the president) who can't get anything done really without the ascent of the Board (Congress).

 

Do people misuse things? Of course. People confuse opinion for fact. They confuse their point of view for logic. They are hypocritical, saying one thing while meaning another. I guess it's about intent. When someone's intent is to make people share one's own paranoia, I would call that fear mongering. If a building is collapsing, pointing this out isn't fear mongering. Feeling a raindrop on your head and screaming that they sky is falling is fear mongering.

 

I just can't see the worst in people by default, I guess. Maybe that's a failing. The ACA (for as bad as it is) was put through with good intent I firmly believe. I have seen absolutely nothing to the contrary. That's not because I like one party or another (I have yet to see a party that doesn't turn my stomach), but because I'm not going to assume that someone is being awful because they are associated with a particular group--i.e. the government.

 

If you have valid reasons to think that the FCC will step in and order ISPs to start blocking otherwise legitimate websites then please present that evidence. Punching at the alphabet soup assumes that all government agencies are the same, and further that everyone who works for the government is the same because of how tiered the whole thing is.



#15 Rythe

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Posted 05 March 2015 - 12:02 AM

Well, the problem with your alphabet soup argument, Foxbunny, is that the FCC is the same as all the rest in that they are all government agencies. And when we can (and have) started going down the list and are able to say 'This one is corrupt, this one is mired in malfeasance, and this one is showing contempt to the citizens...' and on and on and on, then the burden of proof shifts to you as to why the FCC is any different than the rest of the alphabet soup.

 

The other problem is that I already mentioned an incident where the FCC, in specific, has fumbled in regards to free speech in such a dumb way for an agency whose job is to know better. It's annoying that you ignored it and I have to remind you, but fine, try looking up the part where the FCC tried to stick government officials in news rooms across the US. Again, the burden of proof is on you here. I've already done it for my side.

 

Yet another aspect of the situation that your argument is ignoring is that the FCC is doing something new here. What worked before between the FCC and the internet is no longer going to be operative, so their past track record isn't going to be the answer you want it to be. Analysis and speculation of what is going to happen going forward is entirely warranted and prudent, and that is what I have provided while much of your argument is mired in what has gone on in the past, that again, is no longer going to be operative.

 

The fourth problem you're ignoring that I already explained is the trajectory of our political class and our government in general. Nothing exists in vacuum, as much as you might like to argue otherwise. What goes on across that vast alphabet soup likely has common root causes, and those root causes can, have, and almost certainly will continue to effect the FCC as any other agency.  To believe otherwise is the foolish choice.

 

And touching on intent and fear mongering, what is your intent with your demonization of corporations, Foxbunny? Is it for people to share you paranoia? You think I should trust government more? Why don't you consider that frame of mind from the perspective of anyone else watching you continue to speak of corporations as the root of all evil? But even teasing a basis of 'intent' as anything like valid disgusts me. People do terrible things with the best of intentions all the time, and it crops up rather consistently in the analysis of failed government programs.

But case in point with you in specific is your misguided belief that 'all' corporations 'want' a monopoly. There is a great deal of literature and opinion against monopolies in general, much of which comes from free market think tanks, much of whom have corporate funding. Is it really so hard to believe that some of the people in corporations, even the people leading those corporations, don't like monopoly systems as a matter of basic self-interest and social conscience? Here is just one of the many examples that disproves your little 'fact' - The Cato Institute with it's long list of corporate sponsors and donors. A second example is John Mackey, co-CEO of Whole Market Foods, who is an outspoken supporter of Free Market economics.  There are many people who believe market competition is healthy and leads to a better economy which creates not only a better society, but an environment where said corporations have greater stability and more opportunities for future growth and further profit.  So before these real facts, isn't your belief that 'all' corporations 'want' a monopoly simple, misguided fear mongering, Foxbunny? Also, It'd be nice if you brandied about 'facts' that weren't so preposterous and easy to disprove.

 

And it's quite ironic that you would spend words on people confusing opinion with fact when you are one of those people, isn't it?


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#16 Rythe

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Posted 05 March 2015 - 12:52 AM

Oh, one other thing I'm tired of seeing is you frame your arguments in a way that there's only one answer but also in a way that's utterly disconnected from the discussion/situation at hand.

In support of your misguided notion that 'all' corporations 'want' a monopoly, you asked me to name a corporation that was glad for new competition that resulted in profit loss.  While I could easily find a gaming company that was happy there were other gaming companies out there (which are competition), the nub of your argument rests on the question of whether anyone is glad when they lose money, and generally speaking, no one is. 

So in your framework, anyone who regrets money loss must want a monopoly, and that simply is not true.

If for no other reason than some of those people realize that a monopoly can result in the loss of more money (if the monopoly goes against them) and a loss in prosperity in general (because monopolies trend toward incompetence, inefficiency, stagnation, etc).


Edited by Rythe, 05 March 2015 - 12:55 AM.

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#17 foxbunny

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Posted 05 March 2015 - 02:17 AM

It's not worth it, Rythe.

You gripe about being ignored when every one of your points aren't given a response then you gripe when you do get a response because it's "off topic."

 

So. Believe what you want.


Edited by foxbunny, 05 March 2015 - 02:18 AM.


#18 James SilverWolf

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Posted 06 March 2015 - 02:02 AM

Now lads, just because one of you is a toe and another is a nose, so to speak, doesn't mean you should spat with each other over usefulness. You're both part of the church and are needed for the whole, for where one of you cannot minister the other may be able to, given their particular perspective, lets remember that the important part is not whether or not corporations are malevolent blood sucking parasites bent on satanic world domination (what I would classify many of them as, personally) or whether they're semi-benign capitalist ventures out to gain maximum profit, but our ability to convey what Christ wants us to, to others.

 

You're both useful and knowledgeable, and for this reason the devil has you spatting with each other because the little viper knows you're useful. Rebuke 'em and continue to serve Christ.


Edited by James SilverWolf, 06 March 2015 - 02:12 AM.

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#19 foxbunny

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Posted 06 March 2015 - 02:58 AM

Sorry. :(



#20 Rythe

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Posted 06 March 2015 - 04:20 AM

Well, I did explain one thing rather wrongly, which added some confusion, so sorry about that. 

And not that it's going to help, but what I meant about your arguments that tire me are ones that are variations on the 'Black or White' fallacy, or in the above case, just a black fallacy. Where the argument creates the presumption of a single answer and is framed in a way that it seems reasonable, but the reality is very different than what the presumption and framework suggests.  These types of logical fallacies are slippery, which vexes me. I also have to spend time deconstructing the framework of the argument, which usually takes more effort, which also vexes me in the case of it being yet another logical fallacy to deal with.

 

So put that paragraph in place of 'utterly disconnected from the discussion/situation at hand'. I was just having a hard time encapsulating it before.

 

And I'm sorry for being shorter with you than I should be, but I would also really appreciate it if you stopped with the logical fallacies, Foxbunny.


-Advocate Of Lost Souls-





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