Archive for January, 2010

Monty Python Retrospectives

Not too long ago, the BBC produced three radio programmes looking back at the history and influence of Monty Python, the popular comedy troupe from way back when. They’ve been made available on a certain file-sharing website, but because I’m a nice person like that, I’ve made them available for direct download here…

He’s Not the Messiah, He’s a Very Naughty Boy is a look back at the troupe’s most controversial – and perhaps enduring – feature-length film, Life Of Brian. It runs 56 minutes, is 51 megabytes in size, and can be downloaded right here.

Monty Python’s Wonderful World of Sound is a look back at the group’s audio production, particularly the records they produced, such as the wonderfully-named Contractual Obligation Album. It’s in two roughly hour-long parts which run just over fifty megabytes each; part one is right here and you can get part two right here.

If you like Monty Python, these new shows are probably the three best hours you’ll have with your MP3 player this week…

Published in: Geekiness, General | on January 21st, 2010 | No Comments »

Teh Stupid, It Hurts, It Hurts

So this dude over in Minneapolis – fast on track to regaining its old glory of “Murderapolis”, but that’s a story for another day – is a bit down on his luck and needs some quick cash to get food or booze or drugs, or whatever. What’s he do?

Sells cocaine on the streets, of course. Hey, why not? No real special skills required, no real physical labor, and it can be extremely lucrative.

It’s even more lucrative, of course, when you don’t pay your supplier for your merchandise, which is an all too common “bright idea” that down-on-their-luck dealers sometimes hit upon. That rarely ends well.

What’s safer than – but just as lucrative as – selling cocaine you didn’t pay for? Why, selling fake cocaine, of course.

That’s what a guy tried to do on Friday – he sold a baggie of crushed-up drywall powder for $20. He probably would have gotten away with it, too, had he not sold it to an undercover officer.

Say what you will about America’s drugs policies, but some people really are just so stupid that it ought to be a crime.

(Fun statistical footnote: A 4×8 sheet of 7/8″ drywall weighs about 70 pounds. If you powdered the whole damn thing up and sold it at prevalent street prices for crack cocaine, it’d be worth around $635,000. It’d also last you a year… if you sold 86 hits a day, which I’m guessing would be a pretty high volume of sales.)

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', General | on January 20th, 2010 | No Comments »

You Know You’ve Been Doing Too Much Analysis When…

I’ve been hard at work these last couple of weeks, doing a lot of annoying and kind of tedious retrospective analytical stuff. It’s not just year-end stuff, but decade-end stuff – “A Comparison of Commercial Sugarbeet Production in North and South Pastafazool, 2000-2009″, and so on. (Appendix A: Estimated Crop and Arable Land Losses Due to Conflicts in the Disputed Border Region of Shazam, 2004-2008; Appendix B: Regional Expenditures on Beet-Boring Beetle Eradication, 2000-2008; Appendix C: Estimated Domestic Sugarbeet Consumption in North and South Pastafazool, 2000-2009, by Ethnic Group…) 99% of the time this is really deathly boring, but every once in a while you stumble across some great and amazing insight, and it makes it all worthwhile… for a little bit, anyway. (“Huh, only 5% of sugarbeet farmers in the border region are oft-persecuted ethnic-minority Pastafarians, but they account for 95% of the reported post-conflict losses from landmines. Interesting…”)

Anyway, this means that I’ve been living, breathing, eating, and in some cases sleeping numbers and statistics and pattern analysis for a while, and I think it may be taking it’s toll…
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Published in: Geekiness | on January 19th, 2010 | No Comments »

Paul Fay, Jr. (Friday FOIA Fun)

When Paul Burgess Bernard Fay, Jr. – known as “Red” to his friends, which included several members of the Kennedy family – was appointed as Undersecretary of the Navy by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, not many people outside of the California social scene had ever heard of Fay before. The extroverted and entertaining son of a reasonably successful construction magnate, Fay’s only experience with government service had been five years in the Navy during and immediately after WWII, during which he captained a PT boat, earned a Bronze Star, and befriended a fellow captain named Kennedy. Nonetheless, he became Undersecretary of the Navy in January 1961, and served in that capacity through 1965; he also served as Acting Secretary of the Navy for a few weeks in November 1963.

He wrote a memoir about his twenty-year friendship with JFK in 1966, called The Pleasure of His Company, and that was pretty much the last thing anyone ever heard about him, until his death in September 2009.

When he passed away, I made a Freedom of Information Act request to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, suspecting that they had performed an investigation of Fay in 1961.

This month, I was proved correct when I received a bit over a hundred pages of documents from that investigation…
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Published in: General, History | on January 15th, 2010 | No Comments »

Whither Wikileaks?

Wikileaks, the cash-strapped activists who’ve made their mark on the world with grandiose promises, blatant propaganda, and harsh rhetoric, suspended their site last month as a sort of fund-raising effort, claiming to need $200,000 USD to continue operations for the next year. The return of the site was forecast for 6 Jan, then 11 January.

It’s now 13 January 2010, and the site still isn’t back. Why? Nobody’s talking. They’ll still happily take your money – having only raised a quarter or so of what they claim to need – and will happily take your “leaks”, but for now, and for the immediate future, their operations appear to consist entirely of repetitive rumour-mongering on Twitter.

Ah, the free market at work. Gotta love it.

Published in: Geekiness, General | on January 13th, 2010 | No Comments »