Archive for July, 2008

Kwik Hits

Yep, it’s time for another pile of Kwik Hits: semi-random interesting bits, all short-attention-span style:

Dutch scientists have produced a micro-UAV capable of aerial reconnaissance which weighs just three grams. Yikes.

Ramsey County (MN) Sheriff “King Bob” Fletcher (who can’t protect his own wife from crime) has evidently managed to have his underlings conduct investigations of “terroristic organizations” using, um, Google. Despite this, activists are not amused, and one local group issued a typically weaselly rebuttal. (Obviously, the anarchists are all screwed once Sheriff Bob discovers Cuill…)

Don’t worry, even famous race-car drivers have fender-benders, too;

Solve climate issues by putting mirrors in space? Cool, I always wanted to live on Komarr. (Watch out, FBI: Radical nationalists are out to destroy the mirror soletta…)

Last, but not least, three recent U.S. Army papers on a variety of subjects:

The Importance of Cultural Knowledge for Today’s Warrior-Diplomats (PDF!), by Lt. Col. Carolyn Kleiner, argues, well, just about what you might expect from the title;

Millennials: Rendezvous With Destiny? (PDF!) by Col. Fredrick Fahlbusch argues that the “Millennial generation” are for largely inpenetrable (to me, anyway) reasons destined for greatness. I think it’s a bunch of really wishful thinking, myself. Be warned; this report is really badly written: “FDR’s powerful prognostication is conspicuously salient for our current generation of young adults dealing with the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity of the aftermath of a post-Cold War/post-9/11 world.” Or, if you prefer, “Millennials are seeing the hope and benefit of social rules. This trait will serve them well for building trust and confidence throughout the world especially when they talk about good governance and the rule of law.” (Thanks, Captain Carrot…)

Projecting Pyongyang (PDF!) by Andrew Scobell examines not the future of North Korea, but the future of Kim Jong Il and the political regime under the Kim “dynasty”. Interesting stuff, and potentially useful, come that glorious, future day when American foreign policy remembers there’s a world outside the Middle East…

Published in: General | on July 31st, 2008 | No Comments »

Coming to America

British UFO junkie and computer hacker Gary McKinnon is headed to America shortly, to stand trial for breaking into dozens of military computers back in 2001 and 2002. Among other things, one potential implication of this is that McKinnon may become better-known here in the United States – perhaps even as well-known as in Britain, where he’s been something of a cause celebre for the past couple years.

Regardless of what country you’re in, if you’d like to get the full story on Gary McKinnon, you can – if you’d like – download this BBC program about him (40MB, 45-minute MP3 file; do the “save as” thing, rather than trying to stream it, please.) As far as I’m aware, it’s the best, most in-depth examination of his (alleged) crimes, and the various dramas surrounding his fight against extradition across the Atlantic. Good stuff, if you’re into that sort of thing…

Published in: Geekiness, General, History, Security | on July 30th, 2008 | No Comments »

Misplaced – Displaced? – Patriotism

I’m not “unAmerican”, but overdone patriotism really gets on my nerves. It’s not just the “America, everything it does is great, love it or leave it” crowd of ultranationalist zealots that chafe my patience, either. Rather, it’s the economically confusing “buy American, just because” crowd who really irritate me. Support the “local” businesses, even if they can’t otherwise be competitive in the market? Yeah, whatever. I’m not going to compromise my (admittedly flexible) quality-first approach just to appease the domestic ultranationalists. Pay a premium for something that’s inferior? No thanks – I don’t play the whole “my country is better than yours” game.

Or do I? I had a weird realization the other day…
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Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', General, History | on July 29th, 2008 | 2 Comments »

Did Russia “Penetrate” the State Department?

Earlier this month, concerns arose over the security of the J. Edgar Hoover building. Initial concerns were over the information-handling aspects, then later the physical security of the building itself, which is headquarters to the FBI. Were the building really, truly deficient in its security, that would be a huge, and embarrassing, revelation for the Bureau.

What if it isn’t the only building in Washington with inadequate security? What if there were another government office that had not just theoretical, on-paper vulnerability, but had actually been compromised by a foreign power? Tantalizing information from an unlikely government source suggests that’s exactly the case – at no less important a place than the State Department.
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Published in: General, History, Security | on July 28th, 2008 | 1 Comment »

Is All Training Created Equal?

For many problems in life, what matters is the solution – the result – not how you achieve it. There are exceptions, of course – especially where the government is concerned. Even the military is far from uniform – the old joke about there being “the right way, the wrong way, and the Army way” is still very true, unfortunately. Nowhere is this more true than where training materials are concerned.
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Published in: General | on July 25th, 2008 | No Comments »