Archive for June, 2010

Anna Chapman and Friends

I haven’t really gone trawling the web to read about it – sorry, busy! – but I’m curious if I’m the only one who’s more than a bit suspicious of the timing of the charges being filed against Anna Chapman, the gorgeous redhead Russian alleged spy, and her partners in near-crime. The only “serious” suggestion I’ve seen is that the timing was intended to derail START treaty ratification, but I’m not sure I find that entirely plausible. (Cui bono?)

The semi-official explanation seems to be that there was reason to believe the people involved were about to leave the country, but that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, either. It’s not as if their cover were blown or their mission compromised, after all.

My first very cynical thought is that this was done purely to distract people from the Gulf Gusher disaster. Things there are only getting worse, and the television news, at least, has been increasingly covering public dissatisfaction with the government response. Should we really think it’s a coincidence that there’s suddenly the culmination of a decade-long investigation involving some incredibly mediapathic spies?

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', General | on June 30th, 2010 | Comments Off on Anna Chapman and Friends

Kwik Hits

Still more random observations from the wide world of the internet:

Are there any search words you can use on DeviantArt which return more than five results, and for which none of the results involve anthropomorphic animals? Not that I’ve found. I was searching for dingbats – printer’s devils – which you’d think would be safe, but, no… page after page of fanart for this oddly adorable thing, who is apparently named Dingbat. Sigh

Might Better Off Ted be resurrected, after its untimely cancellation by ABC? Eh, probably not. Still, there is apparently always hope, since it seems the show has some influential fans.

An interesting bit of Russian propaganda about Georgia’s attempts to “eradicate memories of good Soviet times”.

Via the WikiLeak blog, a largely overlooked observation that Wikileaks’ fundraising efforts earlier this year apparently resulted in such a degree of credit-card fraud that it has essentially bankrupted TipIt, the micropayment service that once processed donations for them.

Of course, if Julian Assange believed in transparency or accountability, we might know whether any of the sixty-two thousand dollars processed by TipIt actually made it to “Wikileaks” (i.e. Assange), but, you know… that’s never going to happen.

On a related note, it’s now been a month and a half since Wikileaks “returned”, and they still haven’t leaked anything in that time period. In fact, they’ve “leaked” exactly one thing – the ridiculously edited Apache helicopter footage – since March.

Incidentally, Secrecy News has a very good article about Wikileaks which is, somewhat regrettably, being spammed with frothy comments from the rabid fanboys and digital anarchists, who by and large fail to see the analytic flaw in their “enemy of my enemy” reasoning. (i.e. “I hate the State, Wikileaks claims that the State hates Wikileaks, therefore I love Wikileaks.”) Ah, humans…

Published in: General | on June 29th, 2010 | Comments Off on Kwik Hits

The Bravo / Indeed 6DJ8 Headphone Amp, Revisited

Back in February, I posted some thoughts on a tube headphone amplifier that was – and still is – somewhat popular, and sold online by a variety of merchants under numerous names, including “Bravo Audio” and “Indeed Audio”.

The basic lowdown, if you don’t want to read that: A (very) good design, let down by some pretty questionable component choices.

I’ve been using the amp daily since then – actually, daily since late last year, when I got it – and I still feel pretty much the same way. In fact, I feel even more strongly about this since I partially dismantled mine earlier this week…
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Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General | on June 25th, 2010 | 7 Comments »

Word Count: Yah, Ugh

So, I finished the first draft of the main body of my first-ever novel last night. As I wrote about earlier, it was composed online in a (private) wiki. Each chapter was a separate entry, and there are about twenty-five chapters. It’s possible that FosWiki has some sort of word-count extension somewhere – and I know FireFox does – but I didn’t bother using them. I’m, um, old-school, or something.

All along, I was kind of worried that I wasn’t going to hit 50,000 words, or 200 pages. I wanted it to be a sort of light novel, but not a freaking chapbook or something. Well, last night, I cut-and-pasted everything into OpenOffice… I needn’t have worried about the word count, apparently. Or the page count. The text comprises just shy of 70,000 words, and runs about 250 pages in a somewhat normal typeface and size, without any special formatting (chapter beginnings, et cetera) being added.

Now, the fun begins: running through the whole thing and editing it. I mean, yay, I wrote seventy-thousand words in thirty-eight days, on top of all the other stuff I usually write in that time period. On the other hand… I’ve got to edit seventy-thousand words, and add formatting. Happy happy, joy joy.

Assuming all goes according to plan, I’ll be self-publishing the thing through CreateSpace in a couple of months, where you, dear reader, can have the opportunity to be among the millions of people worldwide who haven’t read it, yay.

Unless you just happen to know an agent or editor interested in a mildly subversive literary minimalist coming-of-age story involving political shenanigans, secret societies, underage drinking, casual nudity, gruesome murders, subtly innuendo-laden wordplay, and heartwarmingly romantic same-sex relationships, anyway. English-language rights are still available for a low-low price of a $1 USD advance per continent.

No? Yeah, that was about what I figured…

Published in: Geekiness, General, Meta | on June 24th, 2010 | Comments Off on Word Count: Yah, Ugh

Living With Radiation

Courtesy of the Combined Arms Research Library is a neat 1959 publication of the Atomic Energy Commission called Living With Radiation. Subtitled “The Problems of the Nuclear Age for the Layman”, it’s a fairly neat look at (almost certainly outdated) atomic theory and practice from a period when your friend the atom was the way of the future.

But wait, there’s more!
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Published in: Geekiness, General, History | on June 23rd, 2010 | Comments Off on Living With Radiation