Archive for January, 2006

Debunked…

The TCUEC folks have debunked a handful of rather stupid statements appearing amid all the other rather stupid statements on Jason Chapman’s lackluster website. See their PDF here.

Yes, it’s the same Jason Chapman, AKA Panic!, who once rather creepily impersonated author Jonathan Littell online, who threatened suicide and failed to go thru with it, and who, frankly, probably generates huge personal attention-getting crises rather more often than he changes his socks… Still, the debunking is worth reading if you’re interested in urban exploration in the Twin Cities.

Published in: General, Urban Exploration | on January 10th, 2006 | 1 Comment »

Mouser Week VI

It’s that time of the year again, again. Mark Vollrath and friends have announced Mouser Week VI, the latest more-or-less annual gathering of urban explorers in the Twin Cities, 20 thru 29 January, with a public gathering to be held at Perkins in Minneapolis the night of the 21st. See the link for details.

Keep an ear on the police scanner; it promises to be a typically fun-filled week…

Published in: General, Urban Exploration | on January 10th, 2006 | Comments Off on Mouser Week VI

FOIA Here and There

The United Kingdom’s Freedom of Information act is so new it still has that new-car smell to it. Nonetheless, in many ways it’s vastly superior to the U.S. version. One notable difference between the good old U.S. FOIA and the UK’s FOIA is that under the latter one may request information, not records.

It’s a subtle distinction, but important. You can’t ask questions of U.S. agencies; they’re prohibited by law from generating new records in response to FOIA requests. The closest you can get is to ask for copies of records of a certain type, and/or on a certiain subject… and hope for the best. In the U.K, you can make broader, less-specific requests, and the burden is on them to respond… in twenty days or less, even. Their fee structure is a lot more user-friendly than those of most American agencies, as well.

I recently made a FOI request of the MOD; not frivolously, just to test the system, but because it was an area I’m genuinely interested in, and even in the public’s best interest. They provided the information I asked for – as a spreadsheet excerpt from a RAF database, and unredacted, as far as I can tell – in 21 days, though that covered both the Christmas holidays and New Year’s. Quite remarkable, really.

There’s recently been some new FOIA legislation pased in the States, which would – theoretically – make the FOIA rather more user-friendly. Whether it’ll do any good is anybody’s guess; the existing laws are fairly good, such as they are. The biggest problem lies with agencies’ tendencies to not comply with them, and it’s unclear to me just what, if anything, the new laws do to address this issue.

Published in: Geekiness, General, Security | on January 5th, 2006 | Comments Off on FOIA Here and There