Sunday, January 27, 2008

Data Privacy Day

To appropriately observe Data Privacy Day, I will not ask you how it is hanging.
That is strictly a matter between you and whatever hangs off you.

Photo of sloth having its privacy violated from sfPhotocraft.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Segregation of Obscurity

From Forbes account of the Societe Generale billion dollar fraud:

"It's Nick Leeson, the story is exactly the same," said Celent's Pierron. "We have a trader who trades futures, or derivatives, who hides his losses by using weaknesses in the risk-management system." He said that as long as traders had knowledge of back-office operations, the risks of
abuse would always be there.

A spokesperson for Societe Generale said that there would be thorough reviews of internal controls, but noted that this particular case of fraud was "very, very sophisticated."
So, segregate controls, but keep them obscure.

I got some groceries, some peanut butter

From the maddingly brilliant book of the Naples System, Gomorrah, a description of security during the Secondigliano War between the Spanish and DiLauro clans:

I would ride my Vespa through this pall of tension. In Secondigliano I'd be frisked at least ten times a day. If I'd had so much as a Swiss Army knife on me, they would have made me swallow it. First the police would stop me, then the cararbinnieri, sometimes the financial police as well, and then the Di Lauro and Spanish sentinels. All with the same simple authority, the same mechanical gestures and identical phrases. The law enforcement officers would look at my driver's license, then search me, while the sentinels would search me first, then ask lots of questions, listening for the slightest accent, scanning for lies. During the heat of the conflict the sentinels searched everyone, poked their heads into every car, cataloging your face, checking if you were armed. To motorini would arrive first, piercing your very soul, then the motorcycles, and finally the cars on your tail.
I was struck by the difference in approaches to the basic "airport security problem" between those who were obliged to obey the rule of law, and those who knew an error in their judgment would likely mean their own death.

Foto of the arrest of Cosimo Di Lauro from La Repubblica.

Monday, January 14, 2008

White Knuckles

This looks interesting, in the context of cultural cognition of risk. Entertaining legal wonking on the issue at Concurring Opinions and Volokh.

Amazing the lack of agreement as to when "Yee haw!" becomes "Holy Crap!" while behind the wheel.

Photo courtesy Marie Rose Ferron / Flickr

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Die Doing Something You Love

"To die doing something you love."
I encountered variations of this phrase three times Saturday.

1. In Chris Jonnum's biography of the Haydens, the on track death of flat-tracker Will Davis. Davis was a hero of Nick Hayden's. Mourning his death, Nick said that there is no tragedy if you die doing something you love. Nick did run his next road racing victory lap backwards in Davis' honor.

2. On the DVD of The Race to Dakar, Andy Caldicott died doing the thing he loved, as described by Charlie Boorman. No one will be permitted to die this way this year, since ASO has cancelled the Dakar race due to threats for terrorism. (You can die doing what you love, not what Al Qaeda loves.)

3. Andy Olmstead states in his posthumous blog post that he died doing the job he loved.

If you love your job, you can accept any level of risk.