Below is a photo of our blogdrive buddy Phases. He was in Iraq. He has been out of the military for some months, now. You can see how he has let his hair grow way out. But he didn't just crawl out of a spiderhole.
His birthday was just last month, and since I thought he looked like a Chia Pet, I thought someone should get him a FlowBee Home Haircare system. But, all he wanted ever wanted wasmore cake.
Phases needs your help. We need to vote for the next haircut Phases gets, since that Chia Pet look isn't serving him well. Should he get a big hairdo or go bleached blonde and curly?
Why not vote for something that matters for once?
B l o g t h e H a i r c u t
You can just vote for one of the new haircuts for Phases here, even if you think he should Stay the Course with the Chia Pet look.
Should Phases go back to Boot Camp Bald? If you have a really bright idea, grab the bald Phases image and give him your own haircut idea. Even if you are not too skilled with your own paint program, please help Phases change that Chia Pet to something else -- even if it's a hot pink buzz cut.
When I was serving proudly in the U.S. Army, my job required me to hold a top secret security clearance. If someone tells you that they held an above top secret clearance, it's not total bullshit. It's simply a convenient way to explain military beauracracy.
I can't tell you how it is today, now, but when I had such responsibilities, information was either unclassified or classified. We had seperate trash bags for unclassified candy wrappers and classified document trash.
When some information was given a military or government security designation of classified, it would get one of only three descriptions: Confidential, Secret or Top Secret.
If you then follow the family tree or decision tree of information security up into its spreading branches, you climb up the trunk and can take the unclassified limb or the classified limb. You can monkey about the unclassified limb until your eyes are red and scratchy, as most information within the U.S. government is unclassified. As you might be aware, some information even becomes de-classified, after a number of years. We all still wait on some curious details of a number of things to become de-classified and part of the so-called public domain.
If you have a security clearance for information, it is first described as one of the next set of three limbs on the information security tree. You might be cleared to have access to Confidential information, Secret information or Top Secret information. Each of these three categories of information security is official, described quite legally, and the penalties for divulging or compromising the security of each classification of information increase as the harm to the U.S. government increases.
While I can not speak for lower classifications, the penalties for divulging top secret classified information -- even unintentionally through mistake, stupidity or negligence -- was severe. In war time, it could be labelled treason, and you could forfeit your life through imprisonment or execution.
I'm not sure when the government or defense department adopted the term and method of Specially Compartmented Information (SCI) , but it's likely this happened as far back as WWII. I'll simply seperate any personal knowledge of any of this by saying, "I'm not telling you anything you can't gather from any typical Tom Clancy novel."
If you happened to climb the information security tree up the classified branch, climbed further onto the Top Secret branch, you'd find a large bush of limbs for everything the government thinks should be Top Secret. Not only that, but by creating SCI, the guys working on UAVs and the guys working on nextgen spy satellites can both have Top Secret clearances but not have access to the other guy's work. Think of the Manhattan Project, as an example.
This is where the commonly used term "need to know" comes from. You could hold a Top Secret security clearance, but if you don't need to know, you aren't read on (past tense) to that program or activity, each with its own code word designation.
For example, it wasn't publicly known to the citizens of the United States that we had spy satellites that could read the license plate off the back of a parked car until President Jimmy Carter walked out of a classified intelligence briefing and immediately stood at the podium of a public press conference while absentmindedly pushing the Top Secret classified folder over the top of the speaker podium's edge exposing the words "Talent Keyhole" to be inadvertantly photographed by the press. Even then, it wasn't officially declassified by the NRO until 20 years later in 1997.
To be read on (past tense) or to be privvy to Top Secret Specially Compartmented Information (SCI) means that you have some need to know. You get read on to do your job and you are read off, or debriefed, when you are finished or no longer need to know. As it happens, I and my co-workers operated an SCI facility, or a SCIF. We were read on for just about everything because we worked in data telecommunications. It was a bizarre job that I can't talk much about. Eventually, you are debriefed, or read off (past tense). You basically sign an oath to shut your mouth for 75 years. So, if I remember correctly, I can tell you what fun things and covert operations the government was doing around the world when I'm 97. Don't hold your breath. I'll be lucky to live half that long.
What got me thinking about all the information security was the correlation between the official and the non-offical. What only a handful in the government or defense department know -- as compared to the general public from the press. Similarly, with the the state of information technology these days, it seems that the general public ends up knowing things before the intelligence agencies of various governments. Or maybe not. Cyberspace is an upside-down world.
Hey, even though I grew up in metro Detroit, where the largest population of Arabs live outside of the Middle East, I still can't read arabic. I understand a little in a number of languages, but I always got Chaldean and Farsi arabic mixed up. Also, I never learned French. Growing up, I always thought Clint Eastwood wouldn't speak that sissy language, so instead of French, I learned Spanish, and then German, and I'm still practicing my English whenever I post here, obviously.
Even with all my language inadequacies, I can tell this site isn't operated by Bush-Cheney '04. But you know what? You're not going to see this information on our so-called unclassified news media either. Maybe the government will finally get wind off this site, monitor it, or just shut it down. But since it is our sons and daughters of America fighting and dying in Iraq, maybe we have a need to know.
It's been almost a month since I first told you about the broken kitty. Whether it is from her harrowing experience with an automobile or just the cartoon way she travels on the linoleum flooring in the kitchen, the name given her by the users on the main tag board, Skiddy, has stuck.
Her lame leg seems to be healing. After an intense month of physical therapy involving the chasing of several home-made devices of cellophane and yarn, random objects left on the floor, and imaginary prey, Skiddy is doing much better.
In her typical kittiness, Skiddy hasn't quite learned to retract her front claws yet and gets hooked up on just about everything made of cloth at which she bats. So far, this embarassment has only involved clothing, carpeting and furniture upholstery. I have yet to see her hanging unceremoniously from any drapery or screen windows. So, that's nice.
Skiddy is also a bit skittish. It is believed that she was likely a feral kitty when found. Her lame leg may not have been caused by being hit by a car. She may have been born with it and kicked out of the litter. She may have been chewed on by a dog. X-rays showed no broken bones in her lame leg, so perhaps it was a nerve or soft tissue injury that simply needs time to heal. The veterinarian estimated her to be only 6 to 8 weeks old at that time she was found and subsequently examined, but the last month has allowed her to be more socialized toward people.
My own Skiddy hypothesis, given her age, is that she was likely born sometime during one of the several hurricanes. Her birthplace was likely flooded or made inhabitable by the storms. Her mother may have abandoned the litter or was killed. Certainly, she was very young to be out in the rain and crossing a road.
She has become less timid and ventures away from her original hiding spot behind my bookshelf in the dining area. I moved her food and litter box into the bathroom to force her to make that commute. She has also become brave enough to go out on the porch even when someone is not down there doing something.
While Skiddy looks quite relaxed in the above image, it may be simply that one of her front paws is hooked on the carpeting and she was stunned that I would dare photograph her during this embarassment. Or, it could just be that I busted her being a bad kitty and playing with matches.
I've held my tongue, more or less, concerning the Iraq War during the post Dubya re-election honeymoon period and sat back to see where the new emperor planned on spending his political capital. Other than the obvious timing of Operation Phantom Force occurring after the election, Dubya has stayed the course, pausing only to rearrange some deck chairs in his new administration's cabinet. Maybe mandatory military service for all U.S. college students, which is the norm in many countries for most of their overseas counterparts, would finally wake these future princes and princesses of the new world the fuck up. Maybe not. Half-Life 2 is to be released this week, afterall.
About 100 blog entries ago, in BBSes 2 Blogs, I asked some of you to check out the Jarrar family blogs. I thought perhaps some first-person accounts of the members of a real family in Iraq might make you think twice before dancing around like a drunken cheerleader on exstacy for our snickering Fratboy-in-chief. While it may be true that the American mainstream media is trying to rile up both left-and-right-wing explody types at the same time with their post re-election news stories, their coverage of the facts on the ground in Iraq is oftentimes equivalent to trying to prepare a heart-smart menu for Dick Cheney by only watching McDonald's televison commercials.
Rather than -- no, not Dan Rather -- assume everything is all mission accomplished in Fallujah because the news isn't telling me much, I decided to check back on some the websites and blogs related to Iraq. Afterall, Thunderstorms in the Imajica is nothing more than my own personal verbose bookmark file. I just let you read it also, occasionally.
Without fail, Raed Jarrar has some current photos and astute commentary. It's not just that Raed can give you some of his own Iraqi perspective concerning Iraq, he can give you something that all but a very few paid news journalists can give you in Iraq -- the news.
Even if you are an 1102 Slacker who forgot to vote, I know deep-down you really want to be an informed consumer of the infotainment you consume. Many Iraqi people didn't think it would make much difference for Fallujah who was in charge here, anyway. It wouldn't have changed the commute for our military personnel serving, either. Sometimes, I wonder. Evil Stevie wonders.
BaD DoG Karaoke v1.0 CD My MP3 files posted on Thunderstorms' blog entries via the [headphones].
You can get any of my BDKv1.0 MP3 files absolutely free for some time after the date of the blog entry in which they may appear in the [headphones] link. If the MP3 file is still available for download, you can simply click on its name. Due to file server bandwidth limitations, bandwidth theft, or hot-linking, my MP3 files are eventually rotated off the server and the [headphone] links in the blog entry itself will be broken. However, this list is always updated and current.
You can download, copy, host, distribute or complain about the following files as long you follow the guidelines in Creative Commons license available to you via the icon in the lower left corner of every page of Thunderstorms in the Imajica.
If you want a custom meatspace playable CD with all the BaD DoG Karaoke V1.0 songs on it with which to play very loudly and annoy your neighbors or fellow commuters in your car, contact me. Currently downloadable MP3 files are highlighted links. Alternatively, you may also find these MP3s on various P2P nets.
I decided to list some of my favorites. I live in the middle of nowhere where many important or simply amusing sources of information and entertainment aren't commercially viable or available. I personally enjoy freedom of expression, unconventional thought, and hearing from voices not always approved by the BushWorld FCC. Most links are dialup friendly.
People have often asked me, "Where the hell did you get that audio clip?" So to help answer that question, I thought some list may be helpful to organize my often schizophrenic surfing and research techniques.
Here are some utilitarian links to software that you can download. You need these programs to listen, manipulate, convert, or create Ear Candy online -- or just locally on the happy magic box at which you are staring, right now, in front of you.
Ear Candy related posts on Thunderstorms and other sites. If I am foolish enough to attempt to explain something audio related, or post Ear Candy related things that might be worth a second look, I will list it here.