Monthly Archives: June 2006

Blame Google

Emergent Chaos pokes deserved fun at the CYA tactics — or simple ignorance — of the Catawba County (NC) Public School System’s explanation of how student social security numbers ended up being searchable.

Sadly, this is so far from unique…

Posted in Internet | 1 Comment

A Great American

America’s second-richest man, Warren Buffett is giving away $30+ billion, the large majority of his fortune, to the Gates foundation to fight disease.

Every Democrat running for office should be quoting what Buffett had to say about the idea of passing it all on to his kids:

Mr. Buffett was scathing yesterday in describing his feelings about estate taxes, which the Bush administration is trying to kill. The ability of rich men to pass on “dynastic wealth” to their grandchildren is offensive to the American tradition of meritocracy, he said.

He gets particularly upset at his country club, he said, hearing members complain about welfare mothers getting food stamps “while they are trying to leave their children a more-than-lifetime-supply of food stamps and are substituting a trust officer for a welfare officer.”

(The kids are still getting billions for foundations they run, plus a tidy pile of their own, so don’t cry for them.)

Posted in Econ & Money | Leave a comment

In Case You Give a Hoot

In case you care, Ann Bartow explains the trademark law behind the decision in the Hooters case. I especially liked the post title, “Hooters” Loses Its Appeal.

Posted in Law: Trademark Law | Leave a comment

In Which I Announce My Candidacy for Public Office

The Carpetbagger reports that Constitutional convention talk refuses to go away:

some of the less-sane members of the GOP base are openly considering a constitutional convention because of the Senate’s failure to pass an amendment banning gay marriage. Unfortunately, talk of such a ridiculous idea seems to be increasing, not decreasing.

A second Constitutional Convention is actually far more likely than it should be: Over the decades, arguably as many as 32 states have passed resolutions calling for a Constitutional Convention, just two shy of the 34 needed. I say “arguably” because some of these were a long time ago, and Dillon v. Gloss (1921) (!) tells us that changes in the Constitution should be the result of a “contemporaneous consensus.” Nevertheless, there is a contrary body of opinion, exemplified by the ratification of the 27th Amendment that these calls do not have a ‘use-by’ date — they remain in force at least until rescinded by the legislatures which issued them. (Some people even argue that since the Constitution doesn’t mention taking back a call for a convention, even a rescinded call for a Convention remains in effect!)

On the other hand, many of the petitions states have voted in the past are plausibly dismissed as technically deficient, as they purport to request that a convention be called for a particular purpose (e.g. to consider a given amendment), while the Constitution quite clearly contemplates only an open-ended procedure. It’s not at all clear what weight to give those resolutions.

Working on a worst-case hypothesis, as best I can tell the 32 states that have called for a new Constitutional Convention in some form or other are:

Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska , New Hampshire, New Mexico , North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania , South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah , Wyoming

Many of these states passed resolutions that purported to limit the requests to a balanced budget amendment, and the large majority did so between 1975 and 1979 — almost a generation ago.

Alabama, Florida and Louisiana each subsequently rescinded their calls. As if in counterbalance, South Carolina and Tennessee passed their resolutions twice and Louisiana did it three times.

One house of the bicameral Nevada legislature also purported to “purge” its resolution, but as the call had been voted by both houses, it’s hard to see this as legally effective.

So the bottom line is…confusing. If the calls for a limited convention count as calls for an unlimited convention, and the rescissions don’t work, then we could be as little as two states away. If the three rescissions are legally effective — and I think they should be — we could be as little as five states away. On the other hand if only knowing and general calls for a convention work (which, on balance, I think should be the right answer) then we are very far away, although I don’t know what the exact number is; similarly, if the courts were to craft some sort of time limit for the validity of a call for a Convention, then we could be almost at square one, depending on what the line was.

Even if a Convention were to meet and to report out a new document, or changes to the old one, any revisions would have to be ratified by the states. I am sure that I don’t need to spell out how dramatic the potential changes could be — for ill, or even for good.

So, you heard it here first: If the call for a Second Constitutional convention happens, and if it survives its trip through the courts, then I’m going to be running to be a delegate. (Assuming we even get to elect our delegates, of course.)

Posted in Law: Constitutional Law | 5 Comments

Amazingly Great Political Ad

This new ad from Ned Lamont is really great.

Posted in Politics: US: 2006 Election | Leave a comment

Adam Shostack Joins Microsoft

If hell hasn’t frozen over, then at least the temperature must have dropped a little on the news that cyber-security guru Adam Shostack is Joining Microsoft.

Most of the people in the circles he and I overlap in tend to speak derisively of Microsoft, but the reasons Shostack gives for signing on make Microsoft look pretty good,

Over the last few years, I’ve watched Microsoft embrace security. I’ve watched them make very large investments in security, including hiring my friends and colleagues. And really, I’ve watched them produce results.

In making this decision, I’ve had conversations with many people and organizations. The one theme that stands out was the difference in the conversations I had with Microsoft versus other software producers. Some of things that Microsoft does and are looking to improve haven’t even made it in rudimentary form anywhere else. I found myself having to shift gears and explain Microsoft’s Security Development Lifecycle. I noticed no one else with a Blue Hat conference. No one else stopping feature development to hunt for bugs. I (re-)discovered how few organizations have even basic formal security processes in place, and how few of those have audit to make sure that their processes are followed.

I realized just how many smart people are thinking about these questions at Microsoft, and I’m glad to be joining them

I just hope it won’t affect his blogging too much.

Posted in Cryptography | 3 Comments


This is sort of cute, but doesn’t really fit this page’s design:

Can I resist another cute piece of clutter for the right margin?

Posted in | 7 Comments