Archive for October, 2005

One Mystery Solved

I think I finally figured out why various government agencies take so long to respond to my FOIA requests, and so frequently get my name or the details of my request wrong. Here I was being all uncharitable and assuming it was some sort of underhanded scheme on their parts…

Nope, looks like the requests just might not be surviving the anti-anthrax irradiation too well. See this photo of a FOIA request on a reasonably high-quality, heavyweight, acid-free stationery (Clairfontaine Triomphe, from France) that made it’s way back to the requesting party after six months. It’s sitting on the very pad of paper it originally came from, apparently, and what you see is all that’s left. Hard to believe that’s a piece of expensive stationery that’s only six months old; looks like cheap paper that’s six decades old, if you ask me.

Not a lot gets written about the effects of irradiation on mail anymore, but looking at that really makes one wonder, doesn’t it?

Note that this experience pretty well agrees with research done at the Smithsonian and Stanford.

Worth noting is that all mail is apparently always irradiated *twice*, so the Clairfontaine paper above has had at least two bouts of irradiation…

Published in: General | on October 31st, 2005 | No Comments »

Sturgeon on Urban Exploration

Not really, of course, but after recent antics by the kiddies at UEA – Urban Exploration Alberta – who thought it’d be really, really cool to videotape themselves pooping off the roof of a building and post the clip online for the world to enjoy, I’m reminded that, as Theodore Sturgeon might have put it, ninety percent of Urban Explorers are crud.
Here in Minnesota that’s definately true. We’re blessed with the conspiracy theorists, the paranoid, the illiterate, the druggies, the vandals, the kleptomaniacs, the ghost-hunters, and of course the redneck arsonist – can’t forget the redneck arsonist – among others. Most of them assholes, and most of them hypocrites. When we say we’re just average, normal people, we’re being sadly literal, in that we represent the best and worst of society, plus everyone in between. While many would argue that there’s no “right” reason for involvement in UE, I’d say that many of the MN-area explorers are in it for all the wrong reasons. Gods alone know why the “Urban Invaders” do what they do, or the tools from UEA, but I dare say the usual answers about interests in history and society and photography and exploration have nothing to do with it. Most likely, they do it ’cause they think it’s “kewl”…

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', General, Urban Exploration | on October 31st, 2005 | No Comments »

What’s Forbes’ Problem?

Forbes magazine rips into bloggers, blogs, and the blogosphere in their current issue, in an article so “fair and balanced” it must be making the goons at Faux News all warm and tingly. I certainly don’t expect anything other than yellow journalism from Forbes these days, but their legally questionable suggestions on how to stifle free speech are a new low, er, high, er, low for them.

A lot of bloggers seem confused by this, but it’s easy to explain; Forbes are simply shilling for the Republican Party and the White House, staunch (if absurdly crooked) allies and supporters of all things Big Business. According to fecinfo.com, Forbes’ executives have donated thousands in recent years to – almost exclusively – Republican candidates and PACs. Indeed, Mr. Malcolm S. Forbes, Jr – owner, president, and CEO of Forbes – has donated, by my count, sixteen thousand dollars – $16,000 – to Republicans in the last four years. Clearly, he knows which side his bread is buttered on…

Published in: General | on October 27th, 2005 | No Comments »

Pay to Play

Seems that Bryan Anderson is going to be charged with trespassing after falling down a silo at an abandoned grain mill in Minneapolis and requiring a four-hour rescue. Some people are acting surprised, or cynically suggesting that he’s being made an example of, but I think most of us can reasonably expect that, if we’re to injure ourselves in a location we’re not supposed to be and require prolonged technical rescue in the wee hours of the morning, we’re not going to get off with a warning. I mean, the Gods only know how much money his rescue cost; a lot less than the $100,000 the SPFD spent on the cave rescue/recovery effort a year or so ago, to be sure, but still enough that they’re not just going to laugh it off, good training opportunity or not. Accidents are one thing… avoidable misadventures are quite another. Since he’s not (claiming to be) an Urban Explorer (though he once started a snowball fight with one, rumour has it), it’s not like he even has that great of an excuse – if any, really – for being in the mill in the first place.

Where’d I file the earlier articles on Mr. Anderson? Ah, yes. ‘D’ for “Dumbass”…

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', General, Urban Exploration | on October 27th, 2005 | No Comments »

Oops…

I’m relieved he is going to be okay, of course, but I have to feel bad for the officer who may have just unintentionally been “outed” after being assaulted late at night in Saint Paul. Seems he was, um, walking back to his car just after 0200 from a bar in one of the city’s most liberal, artsy neighbourhoods with another man when he was attacked. Oops. You’ll note the paper doesn’t name the officer, or, tellingly, even what department he works for.

I wonder just how evasive his answers about what he’d been doing at the bar were…

Published in: General | on October 22nd, 2005 | No Comments »