Archive for May, 2010

Bombing the American Heartland for Fun and Profit


Did you ever hear about the time the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) bombed the warehouse district in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota?

Or the time they firebombed the stockyards across the river in Saint Paul?

How about the devastating nighttime raid on the freight yards in Minot, North Dakota?

No? Well, they really happened, in 1944 and 1945.

Admittedly, they were training missions, but, still…
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Published in: General, History | on May 27th, 2010 | Comments Off on Bombing the American Heartland for Fun and Profit

Nice Work, If You Can Get It

A quick observation from a news story I read today:

A business research firm estimates Google’s Pac-Man game gobbled up – hur, hur – 4.8 million hours of otherwise productive employee time last week.

In dollar terms, assuming people are paid $25 (£17.50) an hour, this equates to about $120m in lost productivity, the firm said.

(emphasis mine)

Am I the only person who thinks that’s a ridiculously inflated hourly wage to “assume” for that sort of wild-ass guess? Or is $50K/year pre-tax the new “barely making ends meet”?

I know that Google has a different user demographic than, say, AOL or Yahoo or Bing, but given Google’s crushing market share, if $25/hour is anywhere near the average Google user’s salary, then all I can say is… what was that about a recession?

(And don’t get me started on the whole strawman of “lost productivity”…)

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General | on May 25th, 2010 | Comments Off on Nice Work, If You Can Get It

Y Kant Gangstars Rite?

A week or two ago, I was coming back from a garage sale when I spotted some gang graffiti in an alley. This is not by any means unusual here in Saint Paul, of course. We’ve got gangs like Minneapolis has potholes. (Okay, maybe not quite that bad. But close.)

Anyway, this was interesting because there were three subsequent garages in a row tagged with graffiti – graffiti from two different gangs, on the two garages on the ends.

And in the middle? Anyone’s guess.
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Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General | on May 25th, 2010 | 3 Comments »

Project Megiddo (Friday FOIA Fun)

In late 1998 or early 1999, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) undertook an examination of potential domestic terrorism associated with millennial conspiracy theories and “Y2K”. A report from that project – called “Project Megiddo” – was released in late 1999, and upset a lot of the civil-libertarian types with its implications that, among other things, militias and religious cults might have violent inclinations.

Yeah, yeah. Everything old is new again.

Well, Y2K came and went with minimal disruption, of course, and Project Megiddo mostly faded away into the mists of history. For the most part, the only people who remember the project anymore are those who’ve read the report in question (PDF!) because they want “proof” the government is (still) “persecuting” those infamous “right-wing extremists”… or people who deal with domestic extremism in a professional capacity.

Less than two years after the Y2K hoopla fizzled out, of course, 9/11 happened, and for the most part “domestic terrorism” ever since has been synonymous with “brown people”. (A mistake I’ve written about before, of course.)

Thus, you know, most of the Wikipedia page on Project Megiddo talks about nothing more than all the activist groups who complained about the report and its slights, perceived or otherwise.

Nobody likes being called an extremist, obviously. But there was a lot more to Project Megiddo than simple persecution of religious groups of varying degrees of “extremism”.
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Published in: General, History, Security | on May 21st, 2010 | Comments Off on Project Megiddo (Friday FOIA Fun)

Memorial Season

Last week, here in the United States, was National Police Week. In a world where police weren’t the enemy, it might be the occasion for public events celebrating the service and courage of the men and women in blue, brown, and green.

In the real world, regrettably, it’s the occasion for a lot of memorial ceremonies honoring officers who’ve died in the line of duty. This year, in Minnesota, this was underscored by the murder of Maplewood Sergeant Joe Bergeron only a week prior.
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Published in: General, History | on May 20th, 2010 | Comments Off on Memorial Season