Friday, July 29, 2005

What Caused This Devastating Crash?

The investigation into this morning's fatal crash in a Hartford suburb (alternate link) has only just started. But emergency personnel speculate that a truck that was traveling down Avon Mountain had a brake failure. It lost control and crossed into oncoming traffic.

I can predict what the investigation's outcome will be. The blame will rest on some combination of excessive speed, mechanical failure or operator error.

I bet you no one will blame the road.

The road (and intersection) is designed to produce just this kind of accident. No rational-minded person would decide to place a large intersection at the bottom of a steep hill, just where vehicles would be at their highest speed, and then angle the road in such a way that those cars are aimed at opposing traffic.

In fact the road over Avon Mountain, like many roads in the Northeast, was established back in colonial days. Early settlers used it to get over the mountain. As more powerful vehicles came onto the scene, the road was widened and paved, but not substantially redesigned to accommodate the faster traffic flow.

The governor's response was laughable -- reduce and enforce the speed limit. I'm sorry Ms. Rell, but a truck that's lost its brakes isn't able to do swat about its speed. Someone needs to either move the intersection or flatten the road before the next killer truck descends the mountain.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Media's Portrayal of MGM vs Grokster

The media's soundbites on the Supreme Court's decision on MGM vs. Grokster would have you think that the movie industry "won." You get the impression that the next news item might be:
Emboldened by its victory over Grokster and StreamCast Networks, the music industry announced two new lawsuits. The first is directed at the Internet. "Grokster's illegal activity was made possible by the Internet," music industry spokesman Don Verrilli said. "It's totally without merit," responded the self-proclaimed inventor of the Internet, Al Gore.

The second lawsuit was filed against the Almighty Creator. "In creating the Universe, the Almighty established certain fundamental constructs, which enabled the phenomena upon which the Internet and Grokster are based. This cannot go unpunished." The Almighty had no response.
In fact, the Supreme Court merely overturned the decision by 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled that the file sharing software was legal. The Appellate court's decision was based on the 1984 Sony Betamax case, which the Supreme Court said could not applied to the case.

The Supreme Court's decision doesn't mean that Grokster and StreamCast Networks's Morpheus are now illegal. Instead, it means that the case will need to be retried. MGM will have to demonstrate that Grokster and StreamCast Networks actively induced its customers to use the software for copyright infringement.

For more facts on MGM vs. Grokster and StreamCast Networks, please visit IEEE-USA's copyright infringement policy page.

Note: The articles at the following web pages were referenced for this blog post: