Archive for September, 2008

Metal or Plastic?

From England comes the fairly amazing details of that country’s metal-theft problems – an international crime ring costing authorities around a million dollars a month – and one relatively novel idea for tackling manhole cover theft: making covers and grates out of plastic, which has very, very little value – if any – as scrap.

It seems like an obvious solution, on the surface, so you have to wonder why it hasn’t been tried before. My educated guess is that there are rather a number of problems with this plan that haven’t been fully examined: tensile strength of the new lids, for one; is the plastic as strong as cast iron? If it’s overweighted, how does it fail: flexing and cracking, or completely shattering? Does the plastic degrade with exposure to sunlight? Exhaust fumes? Hydrogen sulfide? How abrasion resistant is it, compared to iron?
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Published in: Geekiness, General, Urban Exploration | on September 23rd, 2008 | Comments Off on Metal or Plastic?

Internet 1, OPSEC 0

Over the weekend, I was browsing the Air Force Central news website, when I came across an interesting set of human-interest photos of a Senior Airman painting the logo of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing on “one of two new barriers located in front of the distinguished visitors lounge” at “an undisclosed air base in Southwest Asia”. Wait – “undisclosed air base”? Right away, I smacked my forehead – hello, how many air bases in Southwest Asia could the 379th AEW be operating from? Well, according to Wikipedia – and Global Security – one: al Udieb Air Base, in Qatar. But, the internet has been wrong before, right? So, can we prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that this confidential, hush-hush location is actually in Qatar?
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Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General, Security | on September 22nd, 2008 | 2 Comments »

Friday FOIA Fun: Robin Moore

Robin Moore, author of the classic special-forces book “The Green Berets” (and co-author of the “Ballad of the Green Berets”), died in February of this year. With much patience and wrangling, I managed to get a copy of, well, at least parts of his FBI file. Some of the documents – referenced in other, later memos – seem to be missing, perhaps destroyed; most of the remainder are heavily redacted; some were referred to “another agency” for review. Assuming, as seems safe, that this second party is the Defense Intelligence Agency, it’ll probably be, oh, five years from now before anyone knows the full details of Moore’s government files. In the meantime, however, you can take a look at what’s been released so far.
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Published in: General, History, Security | on September 19th, 2008 | Comments Off on Friday FOIA Fun: Robin Moore

Past : Present : Future

Today, a potpourri of random military stuff, spanning the 1950s to the near future (sorry, time travel not included). For starters, Wikileaks have an interesting powerpoint on security measures in Secure Classified Intelligence Facilities, or SCIFs. Perhaps not the most interesting thing ever, but there are still some good bits in there. If nothing else, the closing slide is worth remembering: “Don’t be afraid to ask dumb questions; they’re easier to handle than dumb mistakes!”
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Published in: Geekiness, General, History, Security | on September 18th, 2008 | Comments Off on Past : Present : Future

More From the Archives

Today, another FBI document recently released as part of a much larger collection of “stuff” by The Government Attic. As with yesterday’s releases, it’s extracted from one of the much larger PDF files found here. While yesterday’s stuff was concerned with political trivia from the ’50s, today’s is the details of a very interesting “international incident” alleged to have taken place in the summer of 1980: the capture and temporary imprisonment by Vietnam of a handful of U.S. citizens who apparently accidentally sailed into (disputed) Vietnamese territorial waters.
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Published in: Geekiness, General, History, Security | on September 17th, 2008 | Comments Off on More From the Archives