Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Readings 5-14-08

Security Flaws Exposed at Nuke Lab

One night several weeks ago, according to TIME's sources, a commando team posing as terrorists attacked and penetrated the lab, quickly overpowering its defenses to reach its "objective" — a mock payload of fissile material. The exercise highlighted a number of serious security shortcomings at Livermore, sources say, including the failure of a hydraulic system essential to operating an extremely lethal Gatling gun that protects the facility.

It gets better:
According to a former senior officer familiar with the details of security at Livermore, simulated attacks are staged approximately every 12 months. The attack team's objective is usually to penetrate the "Superblock," after which the attackers are timed to determine whether they can hold their ground long enough to construct a crude "dirty bomb" that could, in theory, be detonated immediately, or can buy themselves enough time to fabricate a rudimentary nuclear device, approximating the destructive power of the low-yield weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. A third option in the simulation is for the attackers to abscond with the nuclear material into the heavily populated San Francisco Bay area.

Why, you ask? Well, what puzzles me is that if they do these exercises every 12 months, why the hell aren't the people at Livermore a little bit better prepared?

Public Invited to Search for Mars Polar Lander Crash Site

Does that mean I get to go to Mars?

But seriously,
If you had a screen that could show 1,000 pixels by 1,000 pixels, you would need to look at 1,600 screen shots to cover just one of the 18 photos. Sounds like a perfect job for crowd sourcing! Enter a cadre of eager Martian explorers and bam! Within a few days there are already people posting pixel coordinates of interesting finds.

Arms Race in Space
It's on. It's expensive. And it could destabilize the world...

The United States has been quietly working on implementing this vision. Space weaponization is a relatively long-term project that is expected to culminate by 2030. But the pace seems to be quickening. The Pentagon has produced a series of doctrinal documents that clarify what is meant by war in space and how it is to be properly waged.

I've always suspected that this was so. I don't think Star Wars was ever really shut down, it was modified and expanded and now works under an assumed identity.

via media underground

15 Infamous Top Secret Bases & Compounds From Around The World
Have you ever wondered where the government stores its most precious documents and artifacts, or where they process top secret information and carry out military attacks on the enemy? This is a list of 15 of the most secret and secure facilities on the planet, many of which you probably have never even heard of because their locations are classified. Many of these secret bases are hidden beneath the ground, inside of a mountain or located in the middle of nowhere, so it is difficult to establish exact information on them. However, it is intriguing to get a glimpse into these hidden and murky worlds, even if it is only from the outside.

Including old favorites like Iron Mountain and Menwith Hill, this list is couched more in the actual as opposed to the speculative, so you won't find Area 51, Dulce or Montauk here.

via Media Digest

Everyone in favor, say yargh!
AS A CHILD, Peter Leeson was pirate-obsessed. He cherished the ruby-eyed skull ring he got at Disney World, after riding Pirates of the Caribbean. He took up a collection of coconut pirate heads. He lapped up the pirate themes in "Goonies." And when he grew up to be an economics professor, and started studying pirate society, he found a new excuse for admiration. Pirates, it turns out, were pioneers of democracy.

William S. Burroughs introduced me to this idea with his story of Captain Mission in his masterpiece, Cities of the Red Night. Granted, Burroughs had his own weird-ass spin on things, but the basics were there.

Captain Francois Mission was a French pirate that reportedly founded a free colony in Madagascar that embraced democratic and egalitarian principles. This colony, or "pirate utopia" was known as Libertatia, its motto: "for God and liberty." They waged war against states and lawmakers, attacking their ships, sparing prisoners, and freeing slaves. They called themselves Liberi, and lived under a communal rule, a sort of worker owned corporation of piracy. They were governed by "the Articles" (shared codes of conduct), and they elected their leaders and delegates.

Some 25 years after the establishment of the colony, they were wiped out by native tribesmen and Libertatia and ultimately all pirate utopias were forgotten. There is no back reference to pirate democracies by the Founding Fathers of the U.S.

More on Burroughs and Mission here and here.

Daniel Defoe. pseudonymously as Captain Charles Johnson, wrote Of Captain Mission, which many now maintain is a work of fiction and allegory.

via Marginal Revolution

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