Court decision on TSA searches

I just saw Bruce Schneier’s blog post on a ruling I’m glad to see- a US District Court, in a ruling last month, that TSA is authorized to search for weapons and explosives, and nothing more. Fake passports taken from a passenger in the case were tossed out as evidence.

“The extent of the search went beyond the permissible purpose of detecting weapons and explosives and was instead motivated by a desire to uncover contraband evidencing ordinary criminal wrongdoing,” Judge Marbley wrote.

It will be interesting to see if there are moves to better train the TSA screeners in the future, or a legislative reaction expanding the powers granted. (um, how far away is that mid-term election again…? :-)

I would like to tell you everything.

Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson are my favorites among the founding conspirators… They’ve always seemed the most “real” for me, the most human.

Jefferson in particular has always been something of a personal hero. A genius, surely, but flawed. Just listing his accomplishments would take much time, not to mention his flaws, mistakes, and personal disappointments.

People who know me can attest to the fact that I really would like to tell you everything. (perhaps “warn” would be more accurate)

But for a bunch of things, you could usefully start with Maira Kalman’s wonderfully illustrated and written piece ,“Time Wastes Too Fast” in the column she does for the New York Times, “And the Pursuit of Happiness”.

Jaywalking

Need some graphics to explain things to the judge, after your next brush with the law? No worries, Patrick Crowley has you covered.

(Mac People: out solving real-world problems, and looking stylish while they do it.)

Little robots restore my faith in humanity

intrepid

Tweenbots are human-dependent robots that navigate the city with the help of pedestrians they encounter. Rolling at a constant speed, in a straight line, Tweenbots have a destination displayed on a flag, and rely on people they meet to read this flag and to aim them in the right direction to reach their goal.

Kacie Kinzer makes little robots, and sets them off on little adventures, crossing the street by themselves, and relying on the kindness of strangers. Interestingly, this works out: strangers help the little robots, and try to protect them from danger. This warms my usually cold, cynical heart.

Via Bruce Schneier (who notes that the little bots might have fared less well in Boston…)

Wired: “The Untold Story of the World’s Biggest Diamond Heist”

Wow.

In February 2003, Notarbartolo was arrested for heading a ring of Italian thieves. They were accused of breaking into a vault two floors beneath the Antwerp Diamond Center and making off with at least $100 million worth of loose diamonds, gold, jewelry, and other spoils. The vault was thought to be impenetrable. It was protected by 10 layers of security, including infrared heat detectors, Doppler radar, a magnetic field, a seismic sensor, and a lock with 100 million possible combinations. The robbery was called the heist of the century, and even now the police can’t explain exactly how it was done.

UK police surveillance of political demonstrations

From The Guardian:

Photographs, names and video footage of people attending protests are routinely obtained by surveillance units and stored on an “intelligence system”. The Metropolitan police, which has pioneered surveillance at demonstrations and advises other forces on the tactic, stores details of protesters on Crimint, the general database used daily by all police staff to catalogue criminal intelligence. It lists campaigners by name, allowing police to search which demonstrations or political meetings individuals have attended.

Great.

“PKI-me-harder”

The saag list has a thread discussing “SHA-1 to SHA-n transition”, with all the expected bumps, wrinkles, and sad realities. But entertaining and thoughtful. My favorite comment at the moment is one of Peter Gutmann’s:

It looks like we’re nowhere near admitting that we have a
problem yet if the response to the failure of PKI is PKI-me-harder.

It’s a little like the problem of building a boat in your basement, and then seeing you can’t get it out. Is this a design issue, a deployment issue, or have we fundamentally misunderstood the project? (Once you add local zoning and construction regulations, it’s not long before you wish you’d never started this damn boat.)