Archive for May, 2009

Time-Critical Strike Capability and the Conventional Strategic Missile

An interesting Department of Defense publication from last month just crossed my inbox – Time Critical Conventional Strike from Strategic Standoff is a study by the Defense Science Board which examines the technology, tactics, and planning issues surrounding the United States’ ability to strike targets around the world, on short notice.

It’s fascinating reading, and presents a lot of interesting suggestions that, I suspect, pretty strongly challenge the “conventional wisdom” surrounding the military’s global reach. High-speed, long-range weapons? Not so useful. High-yield explosive weapons? Too much collateral damage, among other problems. Little, but very accurate weapons (like the Small Diameter Bomb)? The way of the future. Special Forces? Under-appreciated, under-utilized, and under-supported where rapid-response capability is concerned.

However, I found something potentially even more interesting, buried in an appendix…
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on May 20th, 2009 | 4 Comments »

Open to Interpretation

They say that facts don’t lie, and by and large, that’s true. (If facts are untruthful… they’re not facts.) The problem is, facts are kind of useless in and of themselves – they need to be “interpreted” to have significance. This is true where intelligence analysis is concerned, but it’s just as true for news reporting, as well.

By now, you’ve probably heard about the recent study which found that most people can’t tell dog food from Spam from pork liver pate from duck liver mousse. That’s the fact, which everyone is talking about… the raw information, if you will. What few people seem to be considering is what this means. What’s the significance of this?
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on May 18th, 2009 | Comments Off on Open to Interpretation

Good FOIA News, For a Change

This may be old news to some of you, but it doesn’t seem to have gotten much if any coverage among the “usual suspects” in the blogosphere that cover Freedom of Information matters, and was news to me…

Apparently, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has repaired its long-crippled FOIA search process wherein the Bureau, essentially, decided where and how they were going to search for records, rather than the requester. This is potentially fantastic news, because it theoretically makes all the Field Office records available to requesters once more, something that has not been true for several years. (Recently, according to some well-respected experts, the – literally – only way to get records from a FBI Field Office was to file a lawsuit, and even then your chances were iffy.)

On the other hand, it suggests that everyone who has filed a FOIA request with the Bureau since, oh, 2002, let’s say, should file new requests for the same material. Sure, that’s a pain in the posterior, and it would cripple the FBI’s FOIA processing… but it’s hard to feel too much sympathy for them since they created the whole problem in the first place.

I can’t speak from personal experience about the new processing by the Bureau. I will say this, though: in the last month, they did accept and apparently begin processing a (very specific and “perfected”) request for a “non-investigative” document not in the “Central Records System”, which I consider pretty encouraging.

On the other hand, they also withheld entirely an unclassified document on domestic extremism, citing (b)(2) – material “related solely to internal personnel rules and practices”. Make of that what you will. 🙂

Oh, and if anyone is keeping track, their online FOIA request form still doesn’t work. Still!. Maybe next year…

Published in: Geekiness, General, Security | on May 18th, 2009 | Comments Off on Good FOIA News, For a Change

Rethinking File Sharing

Obviously enough, copyright owners have issues with the widespread popularity of file-sharing technology, which seems to be used, pretty much exclusively, to (illegally) trade and share copyrighted material. The RIAA and the MPAA are waging a slow but increasingly successful war on bittorrent and similar peer-to-peer technologies, and there’s no sign of them letting up any time soon.

The other big opponents of filesharing seem to be internet service providers, or ISPs, who whine a lot about the amount of bandwidth that bittorrent, in particular, uses.

There’s not much you can do to appease the copyright folks, but ISPs could, if they so chose, do something to make a marked difference in their (pirate) customers’ bandwidth usage, while still allowing them access to the vast majority of illegally pirated movies, television shows, games, and so on.

It’s not exactly groundbreaking rocket science, either.
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on May 15th, 2009 | Comments Off on Rethinking File Sharing

Kwik Hits

I be busy, so here’s some random stuff to keep you entertained, informed, or otherwise occupied in my absence, heh:

Reading Indymedia, I noticed the crackdown on a group of self-described “militant queers” by a ridiculously well-funded conservative organization who, oddly enough, seem to somewhat hate “militant queers”. Apparently Bash Back! are having a convention later this year, and the schedule of events contains a few items that managed to raise even my eyebrows:

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Published in: Geekiness, General | on May 14th, 2009 | 1 Comment »