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October 12, 2007

robot bugs don't need no steenking badges

I was talking urban security issues with some pals last night, and the memory of having read a story about fist-sized flying robot surveillance being used flashed in my head.  I mentioned it, but added that I wasn't very certain of the recollection, and everyone agreed that that would be very interesting indeed, were that happening.

Turns out my brain decided to make me look good for once, as there is very much a report, from the Washington Post, no less, of sightings of gizmos resembling "dragonflies or little helicopters" at a DC antiwar rally last month.  Naturally, none of the US security agencies cited in the article (CIA, DNI, DHS, FBI) will confirm development and/or use of these very small in-air surveillance units, but generally these sorts of developments aren't exactly advertised as they are implemented.  Or, as the article puts it:

"America can be pretty sneaky," said Tom Ehrhard, a retired Air Force colonel and expert in unmanned aerial vehicles...

Just another item to put in your black helicopter file and remember the next time you get all duded up for the big march on [x].

Posted by mrbrent at 11:52 AM

al gore's winning streak continues

I think I may be giving up baseball for the Nobel Peace Prize.  I've never before been a strong fan of a NPP candidate, and the Race to Norway of these past months has been about as fulfilling as a post-season can be (if one's team does not play in such post-season).

And now I wake up and find out that Gore wiiiiiiinnnnns!  Al Gore is your Nobel Peace Prize recipient for the 2007 season!

Yes, my team pulled it off, and it feels like watching the Steelers win all those Super Bowls back in the 70s -- that very rare feeling that your fandom is stronger than the fandoms of all those other teams, at least for a day.

So to all those fans of the Republican candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize, in your face.  See you at the National Book Awards, chumps.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:01 AM

October 10, 2007

cathy/dilbert, back inna hoooouse

I'm not exactly up to a Lifehacker level of digital time management adroitness, so this is not so much a proscriptive demand as it is a sad lament, but is there anything sadder than the email whose entire message is, "Thanks."?

You're sitting there, driving your desk, and kick-wham, you've got mail!  Is it work-related?  Is it from your mom?  Do you need to pick up work on the way home?  Whichever, the tedium of your workaday is about to take a 30 second pause as you open the little sucker, and--

"Thanks."

So sad.  Sigh.

I think we should be conserving our precious ones and zeros.  If I'm asking an emailical favor, and such favor is complied with, then consider my thanks implicit, for economy's sake.  In fact, I will only waste your mail-browsing time with an anti-thank you -- the "Way ta go."

Speaking of wasting time, sorry about that.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:45 PM

October 9, 2007

site will beat any price the cia offers

Which is more heartening?  You decide:

Is it that our intelligence services are about as skilled and professional as The Three Investigators, actually blowing cover on a al Quaida backdoor that some techies had promulgated over years of careful work?

Or is it that our intelligence services are so water-tight that the story of such intelligence services' failure will be released into the general media, where good guys, bad guys and village idiots like me can point and stare?

Actually, as I ratchet down the rhetoric a notch or two, I'd say that both aspects are equally alarming.  First, we know that the administration is all about the political utility of information that should not see the light of day (see Plame, Valerie), but one would think that screwing the goose on a specific operation whose target is bin Laden would be immediately recognized as a dumb idea.  And second, in reading the story, it seems that the party that leaked the story is the party whose investigation was burned -- a private intel purveyor called the SITE Institute.  Accordingly, if private intel firms are playing ticky-tack in the news media with the Feds over who tripped up worse, then I'd say that perhaps all our public/private spooks need to get their ducks in a row.

Actually, is there a compelling need to have private intelligence agencies competing with the ones that we pay for with our taxes?  Is that maybe the most heartening question of all?

Posted by mrbrent at 11:52 AM

October 8, 2007

now launcheth the work week

First up, here's an extra-special shout-out to the people of Columbus, OH, on this, their day.  So all you federal employees watching "The View" right now, tip your hats to the capitol of Ohio, the home of Ohio State University and its many riots and car-burnings, the city with no discernible nickname (maybe "The Second Monday In October City?) -- Columbus.

And in case you were worried that the day would not get weird enough for you, have a splash of the Yahoo! headline box first thing in the morning:

• Bryan Adams to headline concerts for Mideast peace

We're going "without commentary" on this one, but we ask that anyone who makes a "Bryan Adams For Mideast Peace" tee please give the drummer a little bit.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:36 AM