Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bomb a nuclear weapons program?

There is more than one way to bomb a nuclear weapons program, as the CIA and Mossad showed today, allegedly. Twin blasts in Iran killed a top nuclear scientist and maimed another today; unidentified motorcycle riders sped past their vehicles in different parts of the capital Tehran attaching bombs to the windows which detonated seconds later.

Right out of a movie.

Thanks to our friends at Rantburg for the heads up.

Monday, November 29, 2010

What small town rule might look like

Old McAlester High School

Last week the town of McAlester, Oklahoma showed Americans what small town justice might look like, for good and for bad, if left entirely to its own devices. Protesters from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas were in town demonstrating at the funeral of Army Sergeant Jason James McCluskey. Westboro church members are infamous for picketing military funerals across the country, spreading their message that "God hates America" because it tolerates homosexuality.

In McAlester, Oklahoma they were jeered and outshouted by a crowd of more than 1,000 people. More than two dozen cops formed a security cordon around the Westboro protesters. In the end they returned to their mini van to discover two of their tires had been slashed. To quote the Tulsa World, "To make matters worse, as their minivan slowly hobbled away on two flat tires, with a McAlester police car following behind, the protesters were unable to find anyone in town who would repair their vehicle, according to police."

Small town justice.

But it today's America, no such option exists. It has been globalized. The tentacles of Empire reach even to McAlester, Oklahoma. The Tulsa World continues..."The minivan finally pulled over several blocks away in a shopping center parking lot, where AAA was called. A flatbed service truck arrived and loaded up the minivan. Assistant Police Chief Darrell Miller said the minivan was taken to Walmart for repairs."

Bell Labs, an untold story

Tim Wu, the developer of Net Neutrality theory, has written a fascinatingly little article for io9.com. He documents the interplay between Bell Labs, the government and the profit motive of a corporation. Bell Labs, for some fifty plus years, was one of the preeminent research institutions and facilities in the world. Its scientists garnered seven Noble Prizes. They invented the transistor and Unix. But it was not a public facility, nor a wholly state-owned entity, it was a private actor with its own particular motives.

Wu shows what that wrought, in this brilliant nugget- here.

No more hiding behind a wall

The United States Army is deploying a revolutionary new weapon in the endless war in Central Asia. The Army's project manager for the program says it is a game changer. Naturally. It does sound to the Clarion Content like a particularly gruesome tool, as it designed to eliminate the target's ability to hide behind cover.

The weapon is called the XM-25 rifle. It is a programmable rifle that can be set so that its 25 millimeter ammunition rounds detonate either in front of or behind a target. It something like a meld between a rifle and a grenade launcher. Sounds interesting, right? In theory it works like this:
-- A patrol encounters an enemy combatant in a walled village who fires an AK-47 intermittently from behind cover, exposing himself only for a brief second to fire.

-- The patrol's leader calls for the XM25 gunman, who uses the weapon's laser range finder to calculate the distance to the target.

-- He then uses an incremental button located near the trigger to add 1 meter to the round's distance, since the enemy is hiding behind a wall.

-- The round is fired, and it explodes with a blast comparable to a hand grenade past the wall and above the enemy.
It has a range of 2,300 feet.

And somebody is making some green off of these bad boys. They reportedly cost $35,000 per rifle! According to Lt. Colonel Christopher Lehner, the Army is ordering 12,000 of them in the next year, ostensibly enough to have one per Infantry and Special Forces squad deployed in the theater of war.

The era of ducking behind a wall is ending.

Thanks to our friends at Rantburg for the heads up on this one.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bush book prank

There is a movement afoot and a Facebook page dedicated to causing a little fun-loving mischief now that King George the II's new book has come out. The plan is this: Move Bush's memoir to the Crime section of your local bookstore (the Fiction, Science Fiction, and Humor sections are also applicable), take a picture of your handiwork, and post it to the wall of the event page on Facebook.

We highly recommend joining in!

Sponsored by Waging Nonviolence.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Good Samaritan: How about that engineer!

At the Clarion Content we sometimes take heat for being too negative. We are not naive enough to ever believe we could be fair and balanced, but we do think about and follow the positive, too. We take great joy in reading good stories. It is sometimes difficult because of the nature of the angle of the media, of which we might be forced to concede, we are a part. In our view, the role of the fourth estate is inherently critical, though not exclusively so. Being outside the gates of power, it is the press's obligation to shine a light on what is going behind the walls and the proverbial curtains, in the smoked filled rooms.

However, this time, today, it is "Ahoy, good news ahead!"

Check out this story we just ran across in the Seattle Times.

Duane Innes of Kent, Washington, who is a Boeing manager and engineer by training, had a brilliant and ingenious good samaritan moment. While driving to a Seattle Mariners baseball game this July, Innes saw a pickup truck ahead of him drift across several lanes of traffic, sideswipe a concrete barrier and continue forward on the inside shoulder at about 40 mph.

Innes, in a minivan, knew a busy intersection was just ahead. Balls and brains, all systems go, Innes told the Seattle Times, "Basic physics: If I could get in front of him and let him hit me, the delta difference in speed would just be a few miles an hour, and we could slow down together."

Without consulting the passengers in his minivan, "there was no time to take a vote," he pulled his minivan onto the shoulder at speed, got in front of Bill Pace's pickup, and allowed it to rear-end his vehicle, then brought both safely to a stop before the intersection. The eighty year-old driver, Pace, had a minor heart attack two days earlier. He had passed out at the wheel of his truck, due to what doctors later deemed to be poor circulation, with his foot on the gas.

Read the whole harrowing, but ultimately redeeming story here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The long con

Faces you can trust?

Although it does not get much publicity, there are still people out there running the long con. The long con is a confidence trick played out over time. The hustler gains the complete or nearly complete confidence of the mark, they use this power to defraud the mark of substantial amounts of dough over an extended period of time.

Today, we ran across one of the worst/best examples we had heard about in quite some while. Roger Davidson was scammed out of somewhere between $6 million and $20 million according to court filings. Computer geek, Vickram Bedi, thirty-six, and his Icelandic girlfriend Helga Invarsdottir, thirty-nine, were first visited by Davidson in an attempt to rid his laptop of a virus.

Upon learning of his wealth, the pair, initiated what the police called "an elaborate social engineering scheme," eg. the long con. They convinced Davidson that his computer virus was part of a larger plot in which he was being menaced by government intelligence agencies, foreign nationals and the shrouded in secrecy, Catholic organization, Opus Dei. How they got Davidson to buy into this conspiracy is unclear. Police allege that Davidson paid the couple $160,000 per month for 24-hour protection against the purported threats. This continued for a period of six years.

Police continue to investigate other ways the couple might have been defrauding Davidson of his money.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Missle Launch

The media and the blogosphere are a flutter over a supposed submarine missile launch immediately off of the coast of California. Some spectacular footage was captured by a KCBS Los Angeles television crew, check it out here.

The United States Navy and Air Force both officially have no knowledge of the event. NORAD claims it did not pick up a missle launch. The Pentagon asserts it was not from a foreign source.

The comments on our old friend Rantburg's site range from the hilarious, like India test firing the nuclear missile submarine that Obama just sold them, "Kicking the tires and revving the engine? Would YOU take somebody's word that the missiles would fire?" to the skeptical, "a jet contrail viewed from a funny angle," to the conspiratorial, "a target missile for a new type anti-missile system. Probably something so classified it would make your toenails rot off...we don't know what NSA/CIA/super-secret-moose-n-squirrel-division is up to..."

Read them all here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Duck and Cover, on point

Our friends over at Duck and Cover have seen our future...

Read Duck and Cover at the Blue Pyramid.

Sound familiar

As we think about the decline (and potential fall) of the American hegemon, we see some referential wisdom in the words of the Roman historian Sallust...
"Growing love of money, and the lust for power which followed it, engendered every kind of evil. Avarice destroyed honor, integrity and every other virtue, and instead taught men to be proud and cruel, to neglect religion, and to hold nothing too sacred to sell. Ambition tempted many to be false... At first these vices grew slowly and sometimes met with punishments; later on when the disease had spread like a plague, Rome changed: her government, once so just and admirable, became harsh and unendurable."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rasmussen Reports polls widely wrong

The Clarion Content, among many others, has questioned the accuracy and neutrality of polls from the Rasmussen Reports. They were founded by a former employee of the coronation, errr, campaign, of King George the II. They consistently phrase their polling questions with just a little twist to produce the desired result.

Their defense? They were right on the numbers in 2004 and 2006.

Last night, however, they were outed. According to our friend Nate Silver, over at the 538, "Rasmussen polls quite consistently turned out to overstate the standing of Republicans tonight. Of the roughly 100 polls released by Rasmussen or its subsidiary Pulse Opinion Research in the final 21 days of the campaign, roughly 70 to 75 percent overestimated the performance of Republican candidates, and on average they were biased against Democrats by 3 to 4 points."

Interestingly, it would be our argument that overstating your candidates odds at the polls actually hurts their chances. It would be analagous to the brass continuously telling American troops in Vietnam that the enemy was weak, under-armed, on the verge of starvation and primed for defeat. These lies and exaggerations actually harmed United States soldiers and Marines by leading them to regularly underestimate the enemy. We would argue that the Rasmussen Reports did something of the same for right-wing candidates last night.