Archive for March, 2010

Budget Woes: The Bad Guys Are Winning

The economy sucks, which has led to local and state government budgets being slashed across the board. Even theoretically “critical” line-items like law enforcement aren’t safe from the budget axe – overtime, I’m told, is basically a thing of the past, and new equipment – hell, new recruits, new anything – are becoming as scarce as rocking-horse poop.

As far as I can tell, these cuts to police budgets are supposed to be more-or-less invisible (“transparent”) to the average citizen / taxpayer. For the most part this is probably working.

For the most part, anyway.

I was out for a bike ride over the weekend…
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Published in: General | on March 31st, 2010 | 2 Comments »

Thoughts on the Hutaree Raids

By now, I assume you’ve heard of the Hutaree, the religious militia group in the state of Michigan arrested en masse over the weekend for allegedly planning to kill large numbers of police officers with explosively-formed projectiles, or EFPs. Aside from the obvious factors – like the fact that this appears to have been a very serious plot by a bunch of white Americans to, let’s be honest, commit acts of terrorism – there are some other interesting aspects of the event that I think bear discussion.
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Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', General | on March 30th, 2010 | No Comments »

“Restore America” My Ass

Allow me to introduce you to the ‘Restore America Plan’ – summarized somewhat nicely at this link – from the twisted (and not in a good way) minds of the “Elders” of the ‘Guardians of the Free Republics’.

They are, as near as I can tell, a group of militia or “patriot” types who – with the backing and blessing of the military, if you believe what they say – want to “restore order” to the “fifty state republics of the United States of America”. How? By forming juries, or something, and subverting or removing the unlawful institutions of government – like judges, and state governors, and sheriffs, and… yeah, just read their freaking manifesto, if you want to know how the pipe dream is supposed to work.

I know, I know – BORING! Well, I for one find it very interesting that they have a (self-appointed) deadline to pull off what is essentially a coup, and that deadline is March 31st, 2010. Wednesday, in other words. (Why Wednesday? Um, as near as I can tell, either because Citibank are changing their policies come April 1st (no joke, alas) or because there’s some sort of cosmic religious significance to the date.)

Anyway, there are a lot of signs that whatever is supposed to happen is going to happen today – Monday 29 March 2010. See here or here (the references to “tomorrow”), for example.

Normally, I’d guess that a crackerjack plot like this would have a 0% chance of ever materializing. The quite large-scale FBI operations over the weekend in Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois – relatively massive operations directed against a religiously-inspired militia group, no less, and about which the government is being absolutely quiet – make me wonder whether there isn’t actually something to this whole “Guardian of the Free Republic” and “Restore America Plan” thing, after all. (You also have to wonder about the timing of the POTUS’ surprise trip to Afghanistan, vis-a-vis the FBI/JTTF/ICE operations that had the potential to “set off” a lot of fringe, anti-government types. Domestic extremists can’t threaten the POTUS if he’s not, erm, domestic, right?)

So… is something interesting going to happen today, or tomorrow, or Wednesday? We’ll see. I hope not, but, well… these are extremists, remember. One of the few things more worrisome than a bunch of extremists is a bunch of extremists with a plan… and the only thing more worrisome than extremists with a plan is extremists with a plan with a hard-and-fast deadline.

Published in: General, Security | on March 29th, 2010 | No Comments »

St Paul Geocaching Policy

What a strange day it’s been – I saw a pair of foxes running through a neighbor’s yard on the way to work this morning, and a very confused-looking turkey in another neighbor’s yard on the way home. Keep in mind, this is very much an urban area; these sorts of sights might be normal in the country, but here in the city, they’re rather more the exception.

Anyway, only a few years behind the times, the City of Saint Paul has now released the official city geocaching policy (PDF!), as well as a website where people can register their caches.

The policy is, thankfully, quite reasonable and well thought-out. There are a lot of geocaches in the city – and elsewhere in the metro area – but most cities have been really, really slow to do anything about the sport, as this article from last year highlights. So, kudos to Saint Paul for (finally…) adopting a pretty straightforward and sensible policy. Here’s hoping everything works as well in practice as it looks on paper, however…

Published in: Geekiness, General | on March 26th, 2010 | No Comments »

Kwik Hits

Argh, a week of meetings! At least the weather is nice, in the parts of the city that aren’t underwater (whee, annual spring flooding!)…

Random observations from around the internet:

J.M. Smucker, the company that makes Smucker’s jelly and jam, as well as things like Folgers coffee, is downsizing and reorganizing, which is probably nothing to get too excited about in this economy. One thing I did notice, though – the company plans to consolidate all its coffee production in New Orleans. That doesn’t sound terribly interesting, but keep in mind – Folgers comprises about thirty-five percent of all the coffee consumed in America. I guess they’re gambling that no hurricanes are going to hit anytime soon, huh? I mean, I’m no market analyst, but if more than a third of the domestic coffee supply disappears overnight following a devastating storm, that’s going to have some implications, right?

Those of you who are unable to avoid American political punditry may be aware that following the passage of the recent health-care reform bill, angst-ridden conservative “patriots” have been going around smashing windows at Democratic offices around the country, egged on by a fringe blogger who evidently wants to be the next Hal Turner. It’s very nearly an exercise in pointlessness – I’m sure the glass-replacement appreciate the conservative “stimulus package”, but they might be the only ones – but it kind of amuses me how the people who are promoting and committing these acts of vandalism somehow seem to think that motive is what differentiates a crime from an “act of patriotism”. I mean, only a few months ago a transgendered anarchist in Denver broke several DNC windows there, but the whole thing was dismissed – by the same people now breaking those very same windows! – as some kind of ACORN propaganda stunt designed to discredit conservatives. Yeah, don’t think about that one too closely, or ur hed asplode, amirite?

The drama queens at Wikileaks continue with their increasingly ridiculous and paranoidly egotistic bits of self promotion.

Did you know that there’s a kitty running for Sheriff of Hennepin County, which includes the city of Minneapolis? I guess when people say “Anybody but candidate name“, they’re serious…

It’s more or less official: Beetles are the world’s strongest insects.

And finally, a bit of fun from the Former Soviet Union:

This is the website of the Georgian Times, produced in Georgia (the country, natch), and carrying fun articles like ‘Georgia Hates Being Second’, about the country’s progress at combating corruption.

This, on the other hand, is the website of Georgia Times, produced in Russia by none other than Ria Novosti, and carrying “fair and balanced” articles like Georgia, the Most Undesirable Motherland, whose title really doesn’t need explanation.

One of these websites is a reasonably legitimate and more-or-less objective journalistic endeavour. The other is a moderately malicious propaganda organ. See the difference? :)

Published in: Geekiness, General | on March 24th, 2010 | No Comments »