Monthly Archives: March 2005

Email Issues (Tempory)

For what seem good and sufficient reasons, my normal email account at UM will be down for the next couple of days, starting immediately. In theory everything will forward to gmail, but my experience is that this never works right, plus gmail randomly flags real mail as spam (and piles of spam as real mail). And gmail feels so slow compared to PINE.

So if you really want me to get your email between right now and Monday, don't send it to my university address, send it to the address described cryptically in a form I hope foils spammers.

Posted in Personal | 2 Comments

Long-awaited DNS Report from National Academy of Sciences Released

[cross-posted from]
Today the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council (NRC) released its report on
Internet Navigation and the Domain Name System.

The most important conclusion in the report is that it lays to rest, once and for all, any lingering technical controversies about the addition of new top-level domains.

The Committee did not find any purely technical reasons that the root name servers could not provide the same level of response with a much larger root zone file. Indeed, the ability of the .com name servers to respond to billions of queries a day against the .com zone file, with over 20 million entries, is a demonstration of the technical capacity that could be applied to the root zone, if necessary.

The only technical arguments put forward against new TLDs suggested that it was necessary to limit the rate of addition. The committee agreed that the acceptable rate is tens of TLDs – which means anywhere from 20 to 90 per period. The committee thus arrived at the following conclusion:

Considering technical and operational performance alone, the addition of tens of gTLDs per year for several years would pose minimal risk to the stability of the root.

Old hands in the DNS wars will immediately be reminded of two pieces of ancient history: First, that Jon Postel himself proposed adding 50 new TLDs per year to the root. Second, that in all the years of its operation, ICANN – – which claims to be a technical coordination body (when that suits it) – – and which is single-handedly responsible for the current artificial cap on new TLDs never once dared commission a study of what would be technologically safe…perhaps because it feared the answer.

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Posted in Law: Internet Law | Comments Off on Long-awaited DNS Report from National Academy of Sciences Released

Plumbing the Depths

This weekend I'm going to be attending the Yale Information Society Project's conference on Information Flow. There's a great line-up of speakers (although remarkably few women), and interesting papers.

Unusually, the topics were more or less assigned by the organizers. Between that, and the assignment to aim for 5-10 pages (much shorter than my usual academic effort), the writing seemed much more difficult than usual.

If you'd like to see how I did with my assignment to write about “Information as Governance,” have a look at the conference draft of Plumbing the Depths.

PS. As this is just an early draft, comments are especially welcome.

Posted in Internet, Talks & Conferences, Writings | Comments Off on Plumbing the Depths

Bush Impression

Steve Bridges as Mr. President — it's scary how much he looks and sounds like the guy in the White House.

(Firefox users, please note that I had to use IE to get the video to work.)

Posted in Completely Different | Comments Off on Bush Impression

Sanchez Fingered As Authorizing Torture (What Else is New?) The top U.S. commander in Iraq authorized prisoner interrogation tactics more harsh than accepted Army practice, including using guard dogs to exploit “Arab fear of dogs,” a memo made public on Tuesday showed.

The Sept. 14, 2003, memo by Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, then the senior commander in Iraq, was released by the American Civil Liberties Union, which obtained it from the government under court order through the Freedom of Information Act.

“The memo clearly establishes that Gen. Sanchez authorized unlawful interrogation techniques for use in Iraq, and in particular these techniques violate the Geneva Conventions and the Army's own field manual governing interrogations,” ACLU lawyer Amrit Singh said in an interview.

Um, yes, but this is news? We have known about Gen. Sanchez's role in allowing prisoner abuses for a long time. Which is why Rumsfeld's choice of Sanchez to write the first report on the Abu Ghraib abuses was clearly designed to be a cover-up—because there was no one with a stronger incentive to keep the lid on things.

Will Rumsfeld be tried for war crimes some day? There is universal jurisdiction and there is no statute of limitations.

Update: Sanchez prevaricates to the point of perjury when testifying before Congress.

Posted in Torture | Comments Off on Sanchez Fingered As Authorizing Torture (What Else is New?)

The Insidious Effects of Security State Blacklists

Many people have blogged the New York Times's account of the would-be pilot who can't fly because the government has put him on a secret list he can't get off. But none of the blogs I read has noted the most insidious and evil aspect of the story in With Watch List, Pilot's Career Is Stalled.

Yes, it's very very evil that this man has been denied not just due process, but any process at all to remove this serious impediment to his chosen career. His freedom is compromised.

And the article paints him as a nice, sympathetic guy, a victim, who just happens to have helped a 9/11 terrorist by giving him a ride to flight school, and also helped him move some furniture one day. I have no reason to doubt that Juan Carlos Merida is innocent of any crime, and is as nice as the quoted people say he is.

But look at what the circumstances of being trapped in this Kafkaesque vise did to Mr. Nice Guy:

In his eagerness to prove his loyalty and win over the F.B.I., Mr. Merida said, he readily agreed to agents' requests last year to supply confidential information on other flight school students. But that has gotten him nowhere, he said.

That's right. Mr. Nice Guy was so desperate to get off the US government blacklist that he became an informer on his fellow students. And even that wasn't enough.

So we have secret arbitrary blacklists that make you berufsverbot. We have people crawling to the secret service offering to be informers to save their careers. Will the next step will be secret denunciations. Almost certainly. If it goes on long enough then, in time, stoolies will have to meet their quotas for denunciations or get in trouble. Yes, I've seen this movie before. It wasn't pretty. But last time the actors had Russian and East German accents.

Posted in Civil Liberties | 4 Comments