Archive for October, 2009

Kwik Hits

Random things to waste your day with:

I am way too amused by the very snarky Stuff White People Like, which probably makes me a bad person.

Mild-mannered Brits protest fascist goons, and everyone acts surprised. Like, OMG, people don’t like racists, who knew?

A spiffy website that chronicles lost and found radio and television programmes from years gone by has kept me entertained for quite a while.

It seems like something Randall Munroe would come up with, but I’ve found at work that describing – emphatically – tasks you need your colleagues to perform as “imperatives” works wonders in actually getting them to, you know, do stuff. “Doing good things is important, yes, but meticulous and up-to-date documentation fulfills a critical social imperative, which is why we’re entrusting the future legacy of this project to you and you alone. The whole world is watching; please don’t fail.”

Everyone talks about planting incriminating evidence at crime scenes to “frame” an individual, but how come nobody ever talks about planting exculpatory evidence? Like, you don’t smoke, but you leave a cigarette butt in the toilet? Or you do the whole Mythbusters photo-etching fake-fingerprint thing to leave a random stranger’s bloody fingerprint on a doorknob? Probably requires too much advance planning for your average criminal…

Coming soon to a newsstand near you, the latest new magazine for and by domestic extremists. I’d subscribe, but I wonder what kind of watchlist I’d wind up on? Ah, who am I kidding? I’m probably already on all the cool watchlists, anyway, and it’s only eighteen bucks a year. Hmmn, might have to give subscriptions as a nondenominational winter holiday gift this year…

Published in: General | on October 22nd, 2009 | No Comments »

Of Cash and Clunkers

Recently, the U.S. Government implemented a “cash for clunkers” program, modeled on a similar deal in England, whereby people buying new cars were given a flat-rate cash refund for trading in – and having junked – their old car. The idea was to get old, unsafe, fuel-inefficient cars off the roads – and, let’s face it, partially subsidize the auto industry.

What I find amusing, though, is that the popular American idea of what constitutes a “clunker” is far, far different from that of other parts of the world.
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Published in: General | on October 21st, 2009 | No Comments »

History, Lost

In his classic WWII memoir Between Silk and Cyanide, the late Leo Marks makes two or three references to a paper he wrote in or about 1944 called “Ciphers, Signals, and Sex”, which apparently investigated how the FANY volunteers at Bletchley Park – all women, mind you – could be prevented from making so (comparatively) many mistakes during “that time of the month”, a biological imperative that the then-young Mr. Marks apparently little understood.

If Marks is to be believed, Ciphers, Signals, and Sex was one of the few documents attributable to Marks himself which survived in SOE’s archives after the war. (Some estimates put the percent of SOE wartime records lost over the years as high as 85%.)
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Published in: General, History | on October 19th, 2009 | No Comments »

Friday FOIA Fun: Broken Wood and Torn Fabric

Back on October first of this year, if you’d been traveling through the right part of southwest Ohio at the right time of the morning, you might have come across a fairly peculiar sight in a muddy field near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Wright-Patterson is, among other things, home to the National Museum of the United States Air Force – and is, if you believe in certain conspiracy theories, where the Roswell UFO wreckage and the extraterrestrials found aboard it were taken, never to be seen again.

If you’d been at the Huffman Prarie Flying Field – the “world’s first airport”, and now a national park – at the right time back on October first, your thoughts could have been excused for drifting to the Roswell wreckage and thoughts of UFOs, because this is what you would have seen:
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Published in: Geekiness, General, History | on October 16th, 2009 | 1 Comment »

The Verbing of the Nouns

I saw this story in the paper today, and was originally only slightly appalled that common sense has become such a rarity in this country that a high school student faces criminal sexual conduct charges – the kind of thing where, if convicted, I’m pretty sure you have to register as “sex offender” for the rest of your life – for streaking at a high school football game. I mean, seriously, the mind boggles, right? He apparently wasn’t the first student to streak at a Saint Francis football game this year – others received suspensions, according to the article, ranging from one to ten days.

Now, never mind the obvious disparity here – one student streaks and gets a one day suspension, another streaks and gets ten days without school, and another does the exact same thing, and might wind up as a “registered sex offender”, all because the school district wants to make an example. Yeah, real democratic, guys. Almost makes one wonder whether some of those students came from disadvantaged families – like, ones where the parents aren’t influential businessmen or politicians, or have the wrong color of skin, or something – and so received slightly less equal treatment than their richer, better-connected, or whiter classmates.

No, the heck with that; what really and truly appalled me is this quote from the article:
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Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General | on October 15th, 2009 | No Comments »