Archive for October, 2009

What a Long, Strange Trip it’s Been

Five years ago – 29 October 2004 – was not a terribly exciting day in world history. Oh, there was fighting in Somalia, the European Union became a large step closer to happening, Yasser Arafat headed to Paris for medical treatment, and al-Jazeera aired a videotape containing Osama bin Laden’s first admission of responsibility for September 11th. (Remember bin Laden?)

In a lot less noticeable news, the website you’re now reading – Entropic Memes – came into being.

Yeah, I can’t believe it’s been five years, either.
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Published in: General, Meta | on October 29th, 2009 | 2 Comments »

An Egregious Waste of Taxpayers’ Money

So, how much money do you reckon the United States government wastes every year? I don’t know either, but I think we can all agree on “a lot”. And where is it wasted? Well, we all know the high-profile procurement incidents that have taken on urban-legend status – the $900 hammers, the $500 toilet seats, and so on. Those, people notice and pay attention to, because the dollar figures are huge and easy to get upset about.

I’ve noticed a pretty absurd bit of government-wide wasteful spending that, while probably less interesting because it’s pure nickel-and-dime stuff, is quite easily remedied.

Yeah, a problem and a solution, in one blog post.
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Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General | on October 28th, 2009 | 3 Comments »

Is VOIP Now the Go-To Tool For Gov’t Spying?

There’s an interesting article this week about a new Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General (IG) report on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and some of the issues the Bureau faces in reviewing and processing evidence. One of the areas that is apparently singled out in the IG report is the review – or lack thereof – of audio recordings gathered as part of investigations.

It’s not clear what percentage of the audio recordings are telephone wiretaps, but it’s probably a fair percentage – and given that the total unreviewed audio runs to over a million hours, even a small percentage is, objectively, a lot of recordings.

What’s most interesting to me is an offhand comment at the bottom of the story:
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Published in: Geekiness, General, Security | on October 27th, 2009 | No Comments »

H1N1 Chaos and Mayhem, Oh My

This morning, when the alarm went off, I was treated – and I use the term very loosely – to some public radio personality telephoning, on-air, various health professionals around the country and doing thirty-second interviews about the swine flu – excuse me, H1N1 – pandemic and the mass vaccination that’s underway. It was being covered with a mix of excitement – think the morning of a presidential election – and hysteria – think any big security scare immediately after 9/11. The guy, whomever he was (hey, I had just woken up…) was breathless with excitement as nurses and doctors and other people from around the country told him the same thing over and over again: there’s nowhere near enough vaccine to go around, and the public is pretty damned alarmed, oh noes.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s one of the nine begathon months this year for the local public radio station, so it could have been worse – people could have been imploring me over and over and over again to give them money.

Laying there in bed, half awake, a needy kitty on my chest demanding attention, and the H1N1 hysteria temporarily muted thanks to the snooze button, I got to thinking…
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Published in: General | on October 27th, 2009 | 1 Comment »

A Scuttled Aircraft Carrier?

A post at Wired today about anarchist Elliott Madison’s legal troubles stemming from the Pittsburgh G20 protests includes a link to a book Madison and some accomplices – the “Curious George Collective” – wrote a few years ago called Anarchy in the Age of Dinosaurs. I remember hearing about this book when it came out a couple years ago, but I hadn’t ever actually read it, until today.

It’s… how shall I put this? Pretty typical anarchist fare, really. It’s pretty clearly meant for an anarchist audience; it’s more of a motivational tool than a recruiting one. Most of the contents aren’t particularly revolutionary, though it’s better edited than most anarchist publications.

There are a lot of things I could say about the contents of the book, but nobody really cared what a fat, pseudonymous blogger has to say about an old tome of anarchist scribblings.

However, there was one bit that caught my eye…
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Published in: General, History | on October 23rd, 2009 | No Comments »