Weber on Iraq

open source, politics, SIMS, berkeley, policy


Check out UC Berkeley Prof. Steve Weber on what to do in Iraq ("A Modest Proposal for Iraq"):

Here's my modest proposal. Acknowledge that we have lost, withdraw American forces, and let the chips fall where they may. It may take a decade for the country to sort out a set of civil wars. It will be a humanitarian nightmare for the people of Iraq. And it is as likely as not that whatever political authority comes to rule Iraq, or parts of Iraq, will be as troubling to American foreign policy objectives in the region as Saddam was. [...]

Would it 'work'? That depends on what you mean by 'work'. What I mean is quite minimal: protect America's vital interests in the region, at a cost we can afford to bear.

I must admit, solutions like this are quite attractive to me. $315 Billion so far, $200 more this year... jeez.

Also, Check out the course Pam, Steve and Mitch will be teaching this fall at SIMS; I'll be their GSI: Open Source Development and the Distribution of Digital Information.

The Automark is accessible... no matter what Jim Dixon says

elections, accessibility, vendors, news, usability

Jim Dixon wrote a letter on 5 February 2005 to Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell claiming that the Automark ballot marking device "is not accessible for those disabled Buckeyes who cannot handle paper." In a recent post, Prof. Dan Tokaji opines "I don't think that hybrid systems such as the "Automark" comply with HAVA' s requirement that voters with disabilities be provided with equal access, including ballot privacy." (Prof. Tokaji's EqualVote blog is a must-read, by the way.)

I believe this to be incorrect.

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Diebold Election Systems in the news in CA and FL...

elections, certification/testing, standards, copyright, news, usability

I've got two juicy things to report about recent happenings with Diebold Election Systems:

  • In Florida, Diebold is claiming that they will "move to protect their proprietary interests" if any other competing vendor submits a voting system component for state certification without Diebold's prior written authorization that interoperates with Diebold's equipment.

  • In California, most people familiar with election-related news have heard that Diebold's application for certification of the TSx was rejected on 27 July 2005 by the SoS due to a 20% failure rate (see "Diebold's problems worse than reported, tests find"). However, Diebold immediately announced that it planned to fix the problems and resubmit within 30 days. That sounds like quite the quick turn-around considering any code changes would have to be requalified at the federal level, no? Well, that's not the complete story and it does appear that they might be able to resubmit in that timeframe.

(details after the jump)

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We have a tenth planet...

space, astrophysics, berkeley
an image showing three sub-images showing the movement of a new planet, Lila

Astronomers have discovered a tenth planet, Lila (see note on name below)... modulo the debate about what is considered a planet; for which I point you to Gibor Basri's great essay: Defining "Planet".

UPDATE [2005-07-30 07:54:47]: This NYT story, "Planet or Not, Pluto Now Has Far-Out Rival", says that the astronomers are informally calling this planet, Xena! (Although Lila is the name they formally submitted to the IAU)

UPDATE [2005-07-31 09:40:31]: The Caltech website has been updated to include a note that the name Lila is not necessarily the name that they submitted to the IAU.



Congratulations to Molly and Robert Van Houweling for accepting professorships at UC Berkeley's Law School and Political Science Department, respectively. They'll both be wonderful additions to the Berkeley faculty. Molly specializes in IP (and teaches a great IP class) and I know of Robert from a paper he co-authored, "How Does Voting Equipment Affect the Racial Gap in Voided Ballots?".

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