Obama lets NTSB exploit widespread tire vulnerabilities

Stepping into a heated debate within the nation’s transportation safety agencies, President Obama has decided that when the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) discovers major flaws in transportation equipment, it should — in most circumstances — reveal them to assure that they will be fixed, rather than keep mum so that the flaws can be used in espionage, senior administration officials said Saturday. But Mr. Obama carved a broad exception for “a clear national security or law enforcement need,” the officials said, a loophole that is likely to allow the NTSB to continue to exploit safety flaws to apprehend terrorist suspects … Continue reading Obama lets NTSB exploit widespread tire vulnerabilities

to Brendan and Mozilla

I was in the middle of writing a blog post about the controversy surrounding Mozilla when my Twitter feed exploded with the news that Brendan Eich stepped down from his new appointment as Mozilla CEO. So this is a different post. Also, this is not a post about Prop8 (which I abhored) or gay marriage (which I consider a basic civil right.) to Brendan There is little love lost between me and Brendan. We have different styles, and I butted heads with him in tech discussions on a regular basis while I was at Mozilla. He was, at times, infuriating. To be honest, he … Continue reading to Brendan and Mozilla

the French like their strikes like Americans like their guns

This week, French taxis went on strike because the government passed a law that made Uber and other modern chauffeur equivalents artificially less competitive… but apparently not sufficiently less competitive, and that was a tragedy that only a massive strike could rectify. Then when people jumped into Uber cars because, hey, there were no cabs, those cars were attacked, leaving some passengers bleeding and stranded on the side of the road. If you go read the French press, these assaults on completely innocent people are footnotes. “Incidents.” “Scuffles.” It’s enough to make your blood boil, really, that no one other … Continue reading the French like their strikes like Americans like their guns

on cooking turkey and solving problems

On Thursday, my wife and I hosted our 10th Thanksgiving. We both enjoy cooking and baking, though we remain clearly amateurs and tend to make it up as we go along. There was that one time we realized, the night before Thanksgiving, that a frozen 15-pound turkey requires 3 days to defrost in the fridge. I stayed up most of the night, soaking the bird in the bathtub. We’ve gotten better over time: she focuses on stuffing and cranberry sauce, me on turkey and dessert, and we collaborate on some kind of sweet potato dish. The stress almost always comes … Continue reading on cooking turkey and solving problems

so what if torture works?

I’ve seen most of Zero Dark Thirty, the movie that claims to tell the story of the search for and killing of Bin Laden. It’s a pretty gruesome film, with clear implications that torture led to information that led us to Bin Laden. There are fierce debates about whether that fact – that torture led us to Bin Laden – is true or not. Almost every time torture is discussed, the discussion quickly shifts to one side saying “see, it’s effective!” and the other saying “it doesn’t even work!” Here’s a simple question I don’t hear asked all that often: … Continue reading so what if torture works?

Creative Commons and the Associated Press

Some thoughts about the recent Associated Press / Creative Commons story: When Creative Commons launched in 2002, we were often asked “is Creative Commons a form of DRM?” Our answer: no, we help publishers express their rights, but we don’t dabble in enforcement, because enforcement technologies are unable to respect important, complex, and often subjective concepts like fair use. Thus, ccREL is about expression and notification of rights, not about enforcement. Continue reading Creative Commons and the Associated Press

UCL Election Round 2: Speak Now or Forever Hold your Peace

The second round of the UCL Election just wrapped up. The cast votes have been recorded, and here are their fingerprints in PDF form. If you have a problem with the way the election was run, for example if you were a voter and the correct tracking number does not appear next to your voter ID in that PDF, you have 24 hours to complain and update your vote. Speak now… or forever hold your peace. Because that document, even though it does not contain the full votes or the tally, locks down the result of the election: there’s no … Continue reading UCL Election Round 2: Speak Now or Forever Hold your Peace

Luis von Ahn: make academic reviews public

Yes! Luis von Ahn says that academic paper reviews should be public (they can remain anonymous.) I agree. I’d go further than Luis. For most computer science conferences, there is no feedback loop. Want to trash a paper? Write a really bad review and argue strongly, and if someone else on the program committee doesn’t want to fight you, then the paper goes into the trash bin and that’s the end of that. If authors had the right to respond and to point out shoddy review work, it might make reviewers think twice about doing a poor job. As Luis … Continue reading Luis von Ahn: make academic reviews public

Interlab 2008

I gave a short talk on RDFa at Interlab 2008, a gathering of DOE labs on web technology. Good group, fun interactions, and a panel discussion with Ben Ward and Ryan King from the microformats effort. Good discussion, an agreement that microformats and RDFa are complementary, and no street fight. Thanks to Joseph Lewis for organizing. Continue reading Interlab 2008