Archive for January, 2009

Friday FOIA Fun: George Carlin, Redux

Last year, I wrote about the late George Carlin’s lack of an FBI file, having been told by the Bureau that “no records” on Carlin were located. So, imagine my surprise earlier this week when a large envelope showed up in the mail from the FBI, containing… George Carlin’s FBI file. It seems I’m not the only person the FBI originally lied to , for whatever reason. Once called on their mistake, it seems they fixed their “error” quite quickly, hence the sudden and unexpected appearance of a dozen pieces of paper.

Since nobody else seems to have made them public, here are the two most interesting documents concerning Carlin:
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Published in: General, History | on January 30th, 2009 | No Comments »

One Man’s Treasure

We all know the old expression about one man’s trash being another man’s treasure, right? Well, given the current economic conditions, urban explorers might start finding the sewer tunnels a bit more crowded, since it seems there’s gold in that there sewage. Honestly, you can’t make these things up.

Still, if the Japanese electronics industry is putting that much gold down the drain, can you imagine the precious-metal bonanza that must be the Chinese sewers? (Nevermind, for the moment, the inevitable, and unfortunate, disease-ridden, chemical-hell aspects of China’s sewers.)

…and all I ever find down sewers are animal carcasses and raccoon feces. Man…

Published in: Geekiness, General, Urban Exploration | on January 30th, 2009 | No Comments »

“This Essential Beverage”

In 1951, the military began a modernization program for their purchasing and acquisition systems, as part of a process of streamlining – and unifying – military purchasing. The idea was to save the government money, by creating a more standardized purchasing process which would, in part, be able to better leverage the combined purchasing might of the various military branches.

You might think that sounds dreadfully boring, and you’re mostly right. However, the program is of more than purely historical interest today because the first item the military examined – in unbelievable depth, I might add – was the single military-issue comestible not indigenous to the United States – coffee.
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Published in: Geekiness, General, History | on January 30th, 2009 | No Comments »

Time to End the Fearmongering

President Obama has promised to bring change to the country, and to the government. In the latter, at least, he and his administration have taken a few fairly high-profile steps in the right direction. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of these things are important, and really do need to be done; if you wander the internet, you’ll find thousands of suggestions for wht “the next step” should be. Some are serious; others aren’t. Some are practical, some less so. What almost all of them have in common is that they are big and bold, and visible – understandable – to “the average American”. Yes, there’s real, substantial work to be done, but there’s little harm in pandering to the electorate by making largely symbolic acts designed to appeal to a broad mass of people.

With that in mind, I have a small, humble suggestion that will cost the government nothing, and would – I think – be well-received by most Americans:
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Published in: General, Security | on January 29th, 2009 | No Comments »

Some Intellipedia Tidbits

I have a deep respect for Intellipedia, which seems to be one of the few overwhelmingly positive “new technology” success stories to come from the Intelligence Community in recent years. (At least, one of the few that are public knowledge…) It is, of course, Wikipedia, only for government and military intelligence professionals. Public information about the system is fairly scarce, and I’ve tried over time to share what I’ve come across. In keeping with that practice, some readers might be interested in this well-sourced article on Intellipedia from the current issue of the Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin. (Oh, the crazy and wacky things I read, just to find interesting bits of information for you, Dear Reader…) The really astute reader will note that the footnotes include a couple of hyperlinks to Intellipedia itself, which is – I think – a first for a (public) article about Wikipedia.

Published in: Geekiness, General | on January 29th, 2009 | No Comments »