Mr. President, Mr. Inskeep: Climate Change Is Both a Foreign Policy Challenge and an Existential Threat

In the wake of the President’s commencement address at West Point, NPR’s Steve Inskeep interviewed Barack Obama on Wednesday about foreign policy. Here’s how the interview began:

STEVE INSKEEP: I want to begin this way. You’re here at this historic place, trying to speak with a sense of history. And I was thinking of past presidents that I know you have studied and commented on. And a couple came to mind who were able to express what they were trying to do in the world in about a sentence. Reagan wanted to roll back communism by whatever means. Lincoln has a famous letter in which he says, I would save the union by the shortest means under the Constitution. As you look at the moment of history that you occupy, do you think you can put into a sentence what you are trying to accomplish in the world?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I’m not sure I can do it in a sentence because we’re fortunate in many ways. We don’t face an existential crisis. We don’t face a civil war. We don’t face a Soviet Union that is trying to rally a bloc of countries and that could threaten our way of life. Instead, what we have is, as I say in the speech, this moment in which we are incredibly fortunate to have a strong economy that is getting stronger, no military peer that threatens us, no nation-state that anytime soon intends to go to war with us. But we have a world order that is changing very rapidly and that can generate diffuse threats, all of which we have to deal with.

And I think that the most important point of the speech today for me is how we define American leadership in part is through our military might, but only in part, that American leadership in the 21st century is going to involve our capacity to build international institutions, coalitions that can act effectively, and the promotion of norms, rules, laws, ideals and values that create greater prosperity and peace, not just in our own borders, but outside as well.

A senior reporter at NPR gets the opportunity to interview the President about foreign policy and never once asks him about climate change.

To his credit, the President does mention it. Once. In a single sentence. About China.

This is what journalism and leadership look like in America in 2014.


Mr. President, Mr. Inskeep: Climate Change Is Both a Foreign Policy Challenge and an Existential Threat

Nurse & Soldier: LP & Tour

Last summer, I did the layout for Nurse & Soldier’s new LP, “You are standing behind the curtain”:


Last fall, I started playing drums with them.

This winter (i.e. this week!) we’re doing some regional touring:

Friday 1/17/2014 Pistol Pete’s Portland, ME Details
Saturday 1/18/2014 Secret Project Robot Brooklyn, NY Details
Saturday 1/18/2014 Death by Audio Brooklyn, NY Details
Sunday 1/19/2014 Deep Thoughts Boston, MA Details
Nurse & Soldier: LP & Tour

Why I went back to one monitor

While the idea that more desktop real estate means higher productivity seems sound, in practice I found it mostly just invited distraction.

The fact is, I can only look at one monitor at a time, so whether I’m turning my head or using a keyboard shortcut, I’m not ever going to be able to see code and output simultaneously without putting those two windows on the same monitor.

So more often than not I just used the extra monitor to keep email or social media open constantly, inviting those things to distract me or, worse, trigger a stress response via peripheral vision.

In short: Mo monitors, mo problems.

Why I went back to one monitor

Help me find the flaw in this authentication paradigm

Recently, I tweeted this:

It prompted a discussion with my super-colleague, Mark, about why no one has implemented that as an authentication process yet. Consider a process like this (I’ve bolded steps that the user would actually see):

  1. User enters email address, clicks LOGIN.
  2. User is prompted to close their browser tab or window, then go check their email.
  3. Cookie is set on user’s browser.
  4. User clicks time-sensitive, encrypted link in the email which opens a new tab or window.
  5. Cookie and link are required to actually be logged in.
  6. User is logged in.
  7. Server is flushed and encryption algorithm changes.

Four steps.  No passwords.

So, what is the flaw in this process? How is it not both as quick and as safe, if not safer, than the existing authentication paradigm of creating a new password every time you go through the forgot password flow?

Just to be thorough:

  • What if I type in the wrong email address? That would send an email to an account you don’t have access to and would thus prevent you from signing in as that account-holder.
  • What if my email gets hacked? First of all, the links in these emails are active for a brief window of time, say 30 minutes at the very most.  Second, if your email has been hacked you are already screwed because the hacker can reset your password to every account in the current paradigm anyway.
  • What if your server gets hacked? Again, the generated url is valid for a very short time and is then completely erased from the server.  Also, logging in requires not just that url, but also the presence of a cookie on the same machine.  Further, the algorithm changes constantly. Thus, it would have to be an inside job performed in under a minute, just to gain access to a single login. Not a very economical way to make a living.

Help me find the flaw in this because, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why every website doesn’t already work this way, saving us all from the utter farce of passwords.

3/4/2013 Update:

Thanks to @andystalick for pointing out the post I had been searching for before writing this one: Is it time for password-less login? Its follow-up is also essential: More on password-less login.

And more on why we need SOMETHING other than the current password system: 30 years of failure: the username/password combination

Help me find the flaw in this authentication paradigm