March 2008

TSA forces woman to remove nipple rings — with pliers

a bra with a nipple ring, AP photo/Nick UTYes, really; and then defends the “thoroughness of the Officers involved”. Don’t you feel safer now? Our tax dollars at work …

From AP’s coverage of Mandi Hamlin’s press conference:

The female TSA agent used a handheld detector that beeped when it passed in front of Hamlin’s chest, the Dallas-area resident said.

Hamlin said she told the woman she was wearing nipple piercings. The agent called over her male colleagues, one of whom said she would have to remove the jewelry, Hamlin said….

She was taken behind a curtain and managed to remove one bar-shaped piercing but had trouble with the second, a ring.

“Still crying, she informed the TSA officer that she could not remove it without the help of pliers, and the officer gave a pair to her,” said Hamlin’s attorney, Gloria Allred, reading from a letter she sent Thursday to the director of the TSA’s Office of Civil Rights and Liberties.

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Best baseball movie ever? Don’t delay, vote today!

MLB.com says, “It’s March, time for madness and brackets and… baseball movies!” Fans can choose “the best baseball flick ever” from 64 possibilities in four categories — Comedy, Drama, Old School and Left Field.

My brother’s movie, Little Big League, is in “Left Field”, up against The Hank Greenberg Story in the first round, and then either Ken Burns’ Baseball or The Bronx Is Burning in round 2. Tough bracket; pity he didn’t draw Sandlot 2. Still, Little Big League has a lot of fans; what kid doesn’t dream of inheriting a baseball team? So it’ll probably come down to demographics: will the youth vote turn out?

Voting closes March 27 … that’s today! What are you waiting for?

Update, March 28: Field of Dreams beat Major League in the championship; The Natural and Pride of the Yankees rounded out the final four. Alas we can’t find the results for individual brackets, so no idea if Little Big League made it to the Sweet Sixteen or even Elite Eight before its Cinderalla story came to an end …

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pwn2own: the stakes just got higher

pwn2own picture from CanSecWests site

Update, March 27: Macbook Air pwned and owned — in two minutes!

Update, March 28: Vista laptop pwned via an Adobe Flash vulnerability.

Update, April 16: Apple issues Safari patch.

Props to the winners — and to Ubuntu Linux, which emerged unpwned!

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My new bio-in-progress, 2.0

It’s amusingly difficult for me to write professional biographies, especially for print publications. Not only do I have a hard time reducing my career to the paragraph you’re usually allowed, at some level it feels like it forces me to reify my identity. Nonetheless, it has to be done; right now, I’m on the hook for bios both for the Computers, Freedom, and Privacy program committee and an upcoming book chapter on computer science as a social science.

So here’s a stab at it … feedback, please!

Update, 3/27: revised substantially after great feedback. Original version in the comments. Thanks all!  Additional minor edits on 3/29.

Jon Pincus’ current professional projects include Tales from the Net (a book on social networks co-authored with Deborah Pierce), starting a strategy consulting practice, and blogging at Liminal States and elsewhere. Previous work includes leading the Ad Astra project as General Manger for Strategy Development in Microsoft’s Online Services Group; creating the static analysis tools PREfix and PREfast (now available in Visual Studio) at his startup Intrinsa and then at Microsoft Research; security planning with the Windows Security Push and XPSP2 task forces; and the National Academies/CSTB panel “Sufficient Evidence?” His primary research interests relate to recasting the field of computer science as a social science. In addition to the applications of this lens to security discussed here, other social science approaches embodied in Ad Astra and the earlier Project Fabulous include asset-based thinking, narratology, cognitive diversity, intersectionality, philosophy of technoscience, oppression theory, and hot pink beanbag chairs.

(Note: that’s the version for the computer security paper; the other one will have slight differences in the last sentence.)

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Kinetic 3, at the Pacific Science Center

Dancing with the dinos … how cool is that?

Infinite Connections does a great job with these parties.  As always,  nwtekno has the details.  I’m psyched!

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“If Ann Coulter had liveblogged the Gettysburg Address”

by Mark Kleinam on The Reality Based Community:

Old Abe is approaching the podium, looking even more like a badly-dressed and ill-proportioned scarecrow suffering from a depressive disorder than he usually does. I mean, if you’re going to be an empty suit, couldn’t you at least find a suit that fits?

And as usual, he’s not wearing an American flag lapel pin. Too good for it, I suppose. Probably thinks it’s tacky, and that “real patriotism” doesn’t have to be displayed. Typical intellectual arrogance.

and much more, with Ann providing line-by-line commentary

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Intersectionality 2.0

I’ve been working on a couple a potential proposal a keynote for this year’s Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference related to the topic of intersectionality and social networks. Here’s an overview:

Since first being developed by Kimberlé Crenshaw in the 1970s, theories of intersectionality have become a powerful lens for examining questions of race and gender. In the interim, advances in network theory have shown the importance of intersectional hubs; and research in cognitive diversity and problem solving have highlighted the unique contributions of those at the intersections. Does the recent development of social computing technologies, allowing “micro-niche” generation of content as well as enabling people to participate more easily in multiple online social networks, point to new approaches for valuing and leveraging intersectionality? And what does this imply about technology policy in a web 2.0 world?

To explore this area, I propose an joint keynote session (perhaps over lunch or dinner), featuring an expert on intersectionality and an expert on social networking. Crenshaw herself, currently at UCLA law school, would be ideal for the intersectionality expert [unconfirmed; if she’s not available, there are many excellent alternatives]. From the social networking perspective, researchers such as TL Taylor, danah boyd, Joi Ito, and Clay Shirky who explicitly consider questions of race and gender would be good choices.

Thoughts? As always, critiques, suggestions and feedback welcome!

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Indeed! The Economist on “computer science as a social science”

bugs quaking in fear -- from the Economist's articleThe Economist’s Technology Quarterly has an excellent article on Software bugtraps: software that makes software better. This is something of a followup to an article they did a few years ago; most people quoted think that the situation is improving, although of course as Capers Jones points out it depends on your metrics. And why the improvement?

According to … the chairman of the Standish Group, most of this improvement is the result of better project management, including the use of new tools and techniques that help programmers work together. Indeed, there are those who argue that computer science is really a social science. Jonathan Pincus, an expert on software reliability who recently left Microsoft Research* to become an independent consultant, has observed that “the key issues [in programming] relate to people and the way they communicate and organise themselves.”

Indeed, I have argued that — in keynote talks Analysis is necessary but not sufficient at ISSTA 2000 and Steering the pyramids at ICSM 2002, and then more explicitly in the “BillG thinkweek paper” Computer science is really a social science (draft) from early 2005 and my 2006 Data Devolution keynote with Sarah Blankinship applying this lens to computer security.

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“Election falsification” and other voting issues in Ohio (updated)

Update, March 27: The Columbus Dispatch reports statewide officials say prosecution for Limbaugh is very unlikely: “lying through your teeth and being stupid isn’t a crime.” Ari Melber’s Limbaugh’s Lying Voters Under Investigation on The Nation’s Campaign Matters blog has a lot more.

Kim Zetter’s The Mysterious Case of Ohio’s Voting Machines, on Wired’s THREAT LEVEL, has context for Ohio in general. From earlier in the month, Lingering questions in Ohio and Uncounted delegates & Ohio’s delegate math on Dan Tokaji’s excellent Equal Votes Blog cover the equally-important non-Limbaugh issues.

(originally posted March 7)

streets blocked outside the polling location

Art House Queen’s picture of the streets blocked surrounding the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections symbolizes voter disenfranchisement across the state. They ran out of ballots in Sandusky County and Franklin County; voting machines broke down in Montgomery County and no doubt elsewhere; a dozen computer memory cards spent the night in the back of a sherriff’s van in Lucas County before being counted; in Obama stronghold Cuyahoga County, voter privacy was compromised and huge numbers of provisional ballots still haven’t been counted.

The Secretary of State is “very pleased”, citing it as improvement over 2004 despite horrible weather; and very importantly, the move to paper ballots in Cuyahoga County went well, and the state’s pressuring Diebold to refund the $21 million for the decertified voting machines. Democracy in America, 2008. Nothing to see here, move along, move along …

Except …

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When I’m right, I’m right: Geraldine Ferraro and “The day after”

Geraldine FerraroThe Obama campaign’s response to Geraldine Ferraro’s attack perfectly illustrates several things I talked about last week in The day after. Campaign strategist David Axelrod emphasizes the pattern:

Axelrod said Ferraro’s comments were part of a “pattern” of negative attacks aimed at Obama. He pointed to Clinton’s former New Hampshire co-chairman Bill Shaheen, who questioned whether Obama ever sold drugs; supporter Rober Johnsen, the founder of Black Entertainment Television, who raised the specter of Obama’s past drug use; and Clinton’s own “unwillingness” to “definitively” shoot down rumors that Obama was Muslim in an interview this month.

[All of these, and others, are documented on the Clinton attacks Obama wiki. See, I knew it would be important :-)]

Susan Rice brings up a variant of the “reject and denounce” standard:

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Cognitive diversity and the 2008 US election

Originally posted as a comment about The Day After.

There’s an interesting thread started on Feb 8 in the One Million Strong for Barack group on Facebook, How many Political Cards Hillary has played and whats more to come? I went back and looked at it today seeing how accurate it was; here was my summary:

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Facebook flakiness: reliability problems, or an attack?

Facebook once again is in the middle of major flakiness right now: links to nowhere, spontaneous logouts. The best thing to do when something like this happens is to treat it as a sign that it’s a good time to take a break from Facebook for a little while. So I decided to write this blog post.

Given the high tensions on all sides, the ongoing troll infestation in the group, and examples in the election campaign of what certainly seem to be some Republican dirty tricks being played, it’s natural to wonder whether this is some kind of attack like those described in “How to Rig an Election”. Speaking as somebody who’s had a lot of software engineering and computer security experience, my initial answer is probably not.

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