Archive for July, 2008

Aliens Amongst Us

Extra-terrestrial lifeforms have visited earth “quite a bit”, according to a recent statement to the British press. Why do you care what some lunatic UFOlogist thinks? Well, perhaps – just perhaps – because that fellow is an Apollo astronaut, that’s why.
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Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General | on July 23rd, 2008 | Comments Off on Aliens Amongst Us

Invasion of the Mysterious Blue Dots

With just under six weeks to go before the Republican National Convention takes over downtown Saint Paul, it’s to be expected that the city’s security efforts will soon start becoming implemented. Details of what those efforts include, nobody seems to know – or if they do, they aren’t saying. For all that it is the largest security event in Minnesota’s history, it’s probably not going to be much different than any past political convention (at least, those in the post-1999 Battle of Seattle era) or similarly high-profile event. As such, we can infer – that is to say, make educated guesses about – some of the things that are going to be happening.

One thing you can pretty well bet on is the widespread welding of manhole covers throughout downtown Saint Paul. This is de rigeur for any sort of event these days which overzealous raconteurs are anticipated to show up at en masse. It’s not that the Secret Service wants people kept out of the sewers – though I imagine they do – but, rather, a desire on the part of law enforcement to prevent those 75-pound steel discs from being upended and rolled down the street into, well, anyone or anything. That this doesn’t seem to happen very often doesn’t matter too much; this is cheap and easy security theatre at it’s finest. (Cheap and easy security street theatre, even.)

I have no idea when they’re going to start spot-welding manhole covers, but I suspect it might be fairly soon. Why? Well… because many of the manhole covers around downtown have recently broken out in Mysterious Blue Dots(tm):
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Published in: Geekiness, General, Security, Urban Exploration | on July 22nd, 2008 | Comments Off on Invasion of the Mysterious Blue Dots

George Carlin’s Greatest Disappointment

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you might have heard that iconic comedian George Carlin recently relocated to the big diner in the sky. His life was one to be celebrated – a long string of memorable accomplishments and achievements certainly worth remembering. Yet, imagine my surprise – and his disappointment, wherever he is at the moment – at the discovery that one thing George Carlin never managed to achieve during his years here on earth was to get a file on himself at FBI headquarters…
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Published in: Geekiness, General, History | on July 21st, 2008 | Comments Off on George Carlin’s Greatest Disappointment

Friday FOIA Fun

A lot of parts of the government have moved to using form letters to respond to FOIA requests; the ostensible reason for this is to ensure uniformity in communication with requesters – not just literal, aesthetic uniformity, but uniform quality as well. The gods know, this has had some significant advantages – I’ve had more than one indecipherable letter from FOIA officers over the years. I wonder, though, if the rigid adherence to form letters might be a problem, as well.
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Published in: Geekiness, General, History | on July 18th, 2008 | 2 Comments »

Unintentional Humor From Email Spam

Despite my best efforts, I still get a handful of spam in my mailbox every day. Happily, it’s all obviously spam, so this isn’t a huge inconvenience. Lately, the modus operandi of spammers seems to be to send messages with shocking or eye-catching “breaking news” sorts of subject lines. I really do pity the poor fools who don’t open the messages, but just glance at the subject lines and think they’re true. (“OMG, ‘Afghan Bombing Kills President Bush’! Wow!”)

That said, the obvious idea is to come up with email subject lines that will entice the recipient into opening the message (and thus seeing the ad, or becoming infected with the virus, or whatever). Shamelessly, spammers want to try to catch the attention of anyone and everyone, and so aren’t at all afraid to tackle both sides of an issue. Occasionally, however, this can become a little bit absurdly comical:
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Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', General | on July 18th, 2008 | Comments Off on Unintentional Humor From Email Spam