Archive for March, 2009

Fun Times at Norkland High

Remember North Korea, and how, back in the good old days before we’d declared war on brown people the world over, they were Public Enemy Number One? Well, there’s a chance those glory days could return once again, as tensions in the region are ramping up. I mean, even the Chinese have noticed – “At present, the situation on the Korean peninsula is rather complicated with an increasing number of uncertain factors”, a spokesman is quoted as saying. You think?

Most of the tension – but by no means all of it – stems from North Korea’s impending launch of a supposed satellite into orbit. Apparently, there’s concern this could be cover for something much more sinister – an ICBM test. Cue dramatic music, wailing, and gnashing…
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Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', General | on March 25th, 2009 | Comments Off on Fun Times at Norkland High

Government Document Archives Online

Over at Sources and Methods, Kristan Wheaton has published a list of online archives of declassified or otherwise released government documents. Some of the sites linked to – like the National Security Archive and the CIA’s FOIA Reading Room – are like old and dear friends. Others, like the EFF’s user-unfriendly document archive, were new to me.

There are a couple of valuable sites he missed, though…
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Published in: Geekiness, General, History | on March 24th, 2009 | Comments Off on Government Document Archives Online

Environmentally-Responsible Drug Disposal

Did you ever wonder what happens to all the illegal drugs that get seized and confiscated by law enforcement every year? I got to wondering about it after stumbling across this article about environmentally-friendly ways of disposing of prescription meds. Well, I did some digging, and some of the answers are fairly surprising.

The United Nations has guidelines for the safe disposal of chemical precursors used in the drug manufacturing process, but that seems to be about as close as anyone gets to dictating how drugs should be disposed of. Burning seems to be a popular answer, but can be difficult under some circumstances, and may have undesirable short-term effects on those nearby.
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on March 23rd, 2009 | 6 Comments »

Friday FOIA Fun: Reading Between the Lines

Sometimes, with redacted material the government releases under the Freedom of Information Act, what they redact is less interesting than what they don’t, if only because it provides a tantalizing hint at what was really said, and what really happened.

Today’s document, released a while back by the USAF, is one such example. More than half the document was redacted – under the (b)(1), “national security” exemption, no less – but what remains lets one paint a pretty clear, and pretty interesting, picture.

Our story begins in April 1977 – thirty-two years ago. Tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union were fairly high, and negotiations for what would eventually become SALT II were going nowhere fast; they wouldn’t be concluded for another two years. Things weren’t helped much by the USSR’s tendency to have their jets probe our air defenses. Most of the time, this was fairly routine. Once in a while, though, things got interesting…
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Published in: Geekiness, General, History | on March 20th, 2009 | Comments Off on Friday FOIA Fun: Reading Between the Lines

Kwik Hits

Various interesting things, in no particular order:

The United Nations has provided the most comprehensive look yet at the Somali pirates… but still don’t have any terribly useful ideas on what to do about them.

The U.S. Marine Corps has labeled the Federation of American Scientists a “front company” that is “trying to expose National Security information”. Ah, Jarheads; tough and brave, yes. Bright, not necessarily so much so…

Some interesting allegations have emerged about the Syrian “nuclear reactor” supposedly bombed by Israel back in 2007. Might not be true, but would probably make a great movie. 🙂

Also from Israel, helpful advice: Looking to dodge the draft? Don’t get caught kissing. Big Brother is watching you… and he’s a voyeur.

It’s been a bad year so far for utility companies whose manholes keep blowing up. As an engineer in the last-linked story puts it, “The system is reliable until something goes wrong.” Bah, who says there’s anything wrong with the country’s infrastructure?

And, last but not least, a story with a happy ending: “Student rediscovers secret bunker from TV show.”

Published in: General | on March 19th, 2009 | Comments Off on Kwik Hits