Archive for October, 2008

Order Without Hierarchy: Illusions

In Neal Stephenson’s latest science fiction novel, Anathem, it’s easy to make certain comparisons between the fraas and suurs of the Mathic world and the idjits of our world’s anarchist communities. Yet, the comparison isn’t really valid on anything other than a superficial level, because the fraas and suurs are one thing the anarchists will never be: competent.

One particularly lovely concept from Anathem that does show obvious parallels to the anarchist world is that of “first among equals” – referred to in Stephenson’s book as “FAE”. It seems mildly hypocritical, at first – “we’re all equal, but some of us are more equal than others” – and, among anarchist circles, at least a little ironic: Wait, anarchists have leaders? Nevertheless, it demonstrates the importance of ego and hierarchy, and the former’s desire to create the latter where none is needed, or desired.
Read the rest of this entry »

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

Pushing and Pulling Intelligence

Last month, Mercyhurst professor Kristan Wheaton wrote about “push” and “pull” models of intelligence collection. Wheaton is obviously, and understandably, enamored of the “push model” of collection – where you don’t “request” (“pull”) information, but “accept” information sent (“pushed”) to you. It is, undoubtedly, a great idea – as he points out, it avoids (potentially) the whole “why are you asking about that?” question; it government parlance, it helps preserve operational security, a/k/a OPSEC.

“Pushed” intelligence collection isn’t all wholesome goodness, though: it has quite a number of issues which need to be addressed – or if not addressed, at least kept in mind.
Read the rest of this entry »

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

Cheap Chinese Electronics: Fet Buffers

Anyone with an interest in DIY electronics has probably noticed the large quantities of hobbyist-oriented electronic stuff showing up on eBay from sellers in southeast Asia – China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan leading the pack. Some of the stuff is mildly dubious, and a few items are highly questionable, but most of the stock is reasonably interesting, especially the audio stuff.
Read the rest of this entry »

Published in: Geekiness, General | on October 29th, 2008 | No Comments »

Kwik Hits

Better late than never… random linky goodness:

What’s up with Venezuala’s diamond production, asks Douglas Farah; one apparently unexplored angle is that the unaccounted-for stones are being hoarded or stockpiled: a million dollars in diamonds is far easier to handle than a similar value of, say, gold bullion…

An interesting look at al Qaeda’s potential use of Twitter and similar services. One of the threats examined – the use of services like Twitter to collect information about users who are potential “targets” – is very true, and very real – and applies to potential “targets” of many, many other groups, as well. I’m just waiting to hear about the first gang “hit” predicated on Twitter info;

If Osama bin Laden writes a book, will anyone read it? Will the right people read it? Only time will tell…

And lastly, an oldie but a goodie: Rap fan sentenced to listen to classical music in lieu of a fine quits after fifteen minutes, pays money instead. Apparently the local police department “keeps three CDs for this type of sentence.” Sad, but true…

Published in: General | on October 28th, 2008 | No Comments »

Public Self-Interest

The HSDL blog today posts about an interesting recent report on the emergency preparedness (or lack thereof) of nonprofit groups in and around the nation’s capital. This report raises two interesting questions, at least to me…
Read the rest of this entry »

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', General | on October 27th, 2008 | No Comments »