Archive for March 11th, 2009

Crowdsourced Crime Analysis, Part Three

Last month, I wrote about the inexplicable – and so-far unsolved – series of church burglaries that has been plaguing the city of Saint Paul, Minnesota for the last year or so, and published a bunch of data on the crimes, in the hopes that civic-minded members of the public might want to take a stab at crime analysis. It’s a fairly novel idea, but one which I firmly believe has a lot of potential, and not just as a proof-of-concept.

A couple readers have offered their insight, either in comments here or by email, and I‘ve been slowly sifting through the data. I’ve been hampered by having to rely on OpenOffice (I don’t have a copy of Excel), and eventually Google Spreadsheets, to manipulate the Excel files with; others have been hampered by a lack of any sort of user-friendly framework with which to look at the data.

Those problems have, in one fell swoop, just been eliminated, thanks to some extremely kind folks in Pennsylvania.
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Published in: Geekiness, General, Security | on March 11th, 2009 | 4 Comments »

Bernie Spindel

Unless you’re a real die-hard fan of certain obscure technological practices, you’ve probably never heard of Bernie Spindel. He’s not exactly well-known; his only Wikipedia entry is over in the French edition, and it’s been a couple decades since anyone ever published anything about him, except online.

Once upon a time, though, he was – in certain specialized circles – quite famous, as – perhaps – the greatest phone-tap and electronic eavesdropping technician who ever lived. He worked for Jimmy Hoffa, and various Mafia organizations in New York; he may have – if you believe the stories – even bugged Marilyn Monroe’s home, though who he was working for remains a subject of debate.
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Published in: Geekiness, General, History, Security | on March 11th, 2009 | 2 Comments »

POWs and Polygraphy

The treatment and handling of the most high-profile prisoners of war – or enemy combatants, or whatever else they’re being called this week – is reasonably well-known today; more has probably been written about the conditions at Guantanamo Bay than about any prison since the post-WWII flood of reporting on conditions at Colditz. And, of course, some of the most gregarious abuses of prisoners are fairly well-known; Abu Ghraib is unlikely to be forgotten anytime soon.

As for the rest of the folks detained in Iraq or Afghanistan by coalition forces, not much has been written. Oh, you can read policy and doctrine documents on how they’re supposed to be handled and treated, but – at the risk of sounding overly cynical – I, for one, am remaining open to the possibility of a sizable gap between theory and practice where the treatment and handling of enemy combatants is concerned.

While hunting around for information on POWs, however, I did find something that – though it (probably) has nothing to do with current circumstances – is still fairly interesting, because it manages to cover a whole bunch of moderately controversial subjects all at the same time.
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Published in: General, History | on March 11th, 2009 | Comments Off on POWs and Polygraphy