Monday, May 22, 2006

Pittsburgh --> Nashville

After all of the job hunting, criss-crossing of the country for interviews, and job talks, the decision has been made. Come this summer, Sara and I will be leaving Pittsburgh to move to Nashville, Tennessee! That's right, after an eventful undergraduate and graduate tenure at Carnegie Mellon University, I'll be joining the faculty of Vanderbilt University. I'll be a tenure-track assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics in the School of Medicine.

More on this soon.

Edo & Xue Airoldi

Talk about a whilwind of a weekend. Saturday night was the doctoral hooding ceremony. Sunday was an all-day event of commencement activities. And then Sunday night, Edo

and Xue were married

It was an absolutely beautiful affair. Edo's family even flew in from Milan for the occasion. Splendid! Cheers and good luck!


Commencement. A time when things come to an end, and then a beginning. Or is that a beginning and then an end? Or is it a simultaneous beginning-end. Who cares. When it comes to commencement, it means that this year I have officially had my diploma and doctoral hood bestowed upon me:

to back up the claim. It was also great that family was able to witness the festivities

It also meant that Spike (a.k.a. William Gronim) - the lab undergrad graduated at the same diploma ceremony. And Latanya, our fearless lab leader (and my doctoral advisor) was able to see it all:

Now, the doctorate - that's great. The diploma ceremony and the hood - not too shabby either. But the highlight of commencement was - Sara and the Walters (thanks Kate, thanks Rachel) made it possible for me to wear a kilt for all of the ceremonies. How cool is that? So here you go - for your viewing pleasure - Kate and me

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Is the NSA Becoming a PATRIOT?

Unless you've stepped away from all forms of media, you have learned that the NSA is constructing a database of phone conversations on just about every American. They say that they don't really "listen" for anything except for "terrorist" activity. There are many ways that I could argue how this violates civil liberty, privacy, or technology neutrality, but what concerns me most is the technical aspect of the NSA's argument. Let's consider the "terrorist" aspect for a second.

Specifically, I am concerned with how terrorist activity is defined. Recall, the Patriot Act? It was designed, albeit loosely, to give authorities more ease and power in their war on terrorism. However, in the process the authorities have basically redefined the notion of a terrorist threat. We now see people, who have almost zero chance of committing a terrorist act, accosted by the authorities under the auspices of the Patriot Act.

So here's my concern with respect to the NSA: What happens when the NSA goes the same route as the Patriot Act. They're not evil, but to find "terrorists" they have to widen their definition, their search, and their monitoring. Currently, many people believe that their conversations will not be monitored simply because they are not a terrorist. But if "terrorist" is ill-defined and "terrorist-related activity" is even less clear, then much much more of non-terrorist related phone conversation will be monitored with very minimal checks and balances in place. I shudder at the potential harms.

I wonder how many people will move to encrypted communications? Not everyone's a techowonk, so probably not as many as should.

Some people call me a space cowboy

Apparently, my new name is "Doctor Brad". This seems to be Latanya's doing. Personally, I'd rather be called Doctor J, but convincing people to go along with it has been, shall we say, difficult.