Archive for December, 2009

The Foreign Agents Registration Act

The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), isn’t exactly the best-known or most widely-enforced bit of federal legislation, and it’s been at best selectively enforced throughout it’s 71-year history. In a nutshell, it requires people and organizations – including companies – which are engaged in activities in the United States on behalf of or for the benefit of foreign bodies to register their affiliation with the U.S. government. (It’s somewhat more complicated than that, but I’m stuck at the airport on an itty-bitty 8.9-inch netbook which is better than nothing, but a PITA to type on, so…)

Given President Obama’s strong promotion of openness and transparency, you’d think this sort of thing might be kind of an important priority or something, wouldn’t you?

Well, the Counter-Espionage Section of the National Security Division of the Department of Justice – the folks in charge of the FARA – haven’t published a report on the FARA since Obama took office. A report should have been published at the end of June, but doesn’t seem to have been, which is… interesting. Another is due tomorrow; anyone want to bet on whether it actually appears?

Published in: General | on December 30th, 2009 | No Comments »

Scrubs & Better Off Ted

Prominent and reasonably influential television ratings website TV By the Numbers has for some time been predicting the cancellation of two of ABC’s better half-hour comedies, namely Scrubs and Better Off Ted, based purely on ratings numbers. In fact, the site is bewildered by Ted having ever gotten a second season in the first place.

I’m not; it’s a very funny show that’s culturally relevant and accessibly to a lot of people. I’m a huge fan, and I make no apologies for that. I also like the “new” med-school incarnation of Scrubs, and am not at all bothered by the new cast. So JD and Turk are going away? So what? I liked Dr. Cox, and as far as I can tell Denise is more of the same, albeit cuter. And so far Lucy seems a perfectly adequate replacement for JD, as far as lead characters are concerned.

I mean, Dr. Cox and Denise for half an hour, followed by thirty minutes of Portia de Rossi’s Veronica on Better Off Ted? Hello, Tuesday Night Snark Bloc.
Read the rest of this entry »

Published in: Geekiness, General | on December 29th, 2009 | No Comments »

A Miracle on Blogosphere Street

A year ago, I wrote about the kindness that retired Colonel Bernie Moore showed in responding to a request posed on this very blog by a guy named Shaun Strickland, whose father was killed in a military training accident back in 1982, shortly before Shaun was born.

Some of you might remember Shaun’s post, which read “I was born on March 23, 1982. On April 26, 1982 my father was in Stuggart, Germany and attempted Mission Skyhook. My father died due to faulty equipment and fell to his death at 1400 hours. Any information would be great.”.

And some of you might recall Col. Moore’s response, which began “Shaun, I was the co-pilot (right seat pilot) on the flight on which we lost your father…”.

What are the odds, right? Well, that was 22 Dec 2008. I tried to contact Shaun to give him the news. Col. Moore tried to contact Shaun to give him the news. We tried several times over the last year, but were unable to get in touch with him over the last year.

I promised, in that earlier post, I’d make an update whenever I heard from Shaun about this little Christmas miracle.

Saturday, I got a message…
Read the rest of this entry »

Published in: General, History | on December 28th, 2009 | No Comments »

Pity The Humble Heroin Junkie

In this season of goodwill and charity towards others, it is perhaps appropriate to stop for a moment and feel a moment of pity for the poor, humble heroin junkies of England.

Not necessarily because they’ve made some bad choices in their lives, mind you, or have turned into addicts of a powerful and illegal opiate. Rather, because there appears to be anthrax in the heroin supply, with one user dead and two in hospital with the disease.

Authorities insist there’s no reason whatsoever to believe this is anything other than an accidental contamination of the heroin supply with naturally-occurring anthrax spores, but you have to wonder. I mean, if you were a villain who’d cultured anthrax spores and wanted to test their potency, there are a lot of worse ways to go about it than carefully contaminating the heroin supply and seeing what happens…

Jokes aside, a lot of people already treat (hard) drug users like lepers; they fact that they now might actually have a fairly serious disease isn’t going to exactly improve their social standing or treatment, you know?

Published in: General | on December 17th, 2009 | No Comments »

Heh-Heh, Beavis, The Radio Just Played…

Over in England, there is evidently a movement afoot to manipulate the music charts. Coordinated on Facebook (where else?), this mercantile insurrection seeks – or so they say – to protest the predictable and shite nature of modern cookie-cutter pop music produced by the sorts of here today, gone tomorrow cookie-cutter pop singers so beloved of viewers of shows like American Idol or Canada’s Got Talent or The X Factor.

These folks apparently don’t want a vapid and over-produced pop jingle to be the number one single during Christmas, which is a bit of a bragging point and ensures lots of airplay, blah blah blah. I, as you might guess from my comments, pretty much completely endorse this idea.

The song these folks have decided to promote, in the hopes of becoming number one, is Rage Against the Machine’s classic anthem Killing in the Name.
Read the rest of this entry »

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', General | on December 16th, 2009 | 3 Comments »