Ramblings & ephemera

What seems obvious in security often is not

From Russell Nelson’s comment to Bruce Schneier’s Crypto-Gram of 15 November 2003: > A New York detective was once asked whether pickpockets in > Manhattan dressed in suits and ties to facilitate their crimes > subsequent escape. He responded by saying that in twenty years > he had never arrested even one pickpocket in a […]

Woody Allen’s atheism

From Robert E. Lauder’s interview with Woody Allen, “Whatever Works” (Commonweal: 15 April 2010): Well, you know, you want some kind of relief from the agony and terror of human existence. Human existence is a brutal experience to me…it’s a brutal, meaningless experience—an agonizing, meaningless experience with some oases, delight, some charm and peace, but […]

A one-way ticket to crazyville

Image by rsgranne via Flickr Image by rsgranne via Flickr Image by rsgranne via Flickr From Dave Alan’s “Interview with Alex Christopher” (Leading Edge Research Group: 1 June 1996): Legend: DA [Dave Alan, Host] AC: [Alex Christopher] C: [Caller] … (Note: according to former British Intelligence agent Dr. John Coleman, the London-based Wicca Mason lodges […]

How it feels to drown, get decapitated, get electrocuted, and more

From Anna Gosline’s “Death special: How does it feel to die?” (New Scientist: 13 October 2007): Death comes in many guises, but one way or another it is usually a lack of oxygen to the brain that delivers the coup de grâce. Whether as a result of a heart attack, drowning or suffocation, for example, […]

Somehow I don’t think she had

From Timothy Noah’s “Bush’s Fart-Joke Legacy” (Slate: 2 October 2006): Legend has it that Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, once farted in the presence of Queen Elizabeth I, whereupon he went into exile for seven years. On his return, the queen reputedly greeted, “My lord, we had quite forgot the fart.”

The escape of Mr. Flitcraft

From Claudia Roth Pierpont’s “Tough Guy: The mystery of Dashiell Hammett” (The New Yorker [11 February 2002]: 70): There is one section of “The Maltese Falcon” that could not be filmed, and for many readers it is the most important story Hammett ever told. A dreamlike interruption in events, it is a parable that Spade […]

Beauregard fools Halleck & escapes

From Shelby Foote’s The Civil War: Fort Sumter to Perryville (384): When [Pierre Gustave Toutant de Beauregard‘s men] stole out of the intrenchments [at Corinth] after nightfall, they left dummy guns in the embrasures and dummy cannoneers to serve them, fashioned by stuffing ragged uniforms with straw. A single band moved up and down the […]

Ulysses Grant & the torpedo

From Greg Goebel’s “Februrary 1862: Unconditional And Immediate Surrender” (interpolation from Shelby Foote’s The Civil War: Fort Sumter to Perryville [187]): On the afternoon of 5 February, during a conference between Grant, Foote, and the two division commanders, the captain of a gunboat sent a message to Grant that he had actually pulled a torpedo […]

Zombie ships adrift off the shore of Africa

From “Happiness: The Chinese zombie ships of West Africa“: We’re in the big African Queen inflatable, cruising alongside an anchored trawler. It’s more rust than metal – the ship is rotting away. The foredeck is covered in broken machinery. The fish deck is littered with frayed cables, and the mast lies horizontally, hanging over the […]

Robot on the run

From The Age: Scientists running a pioneering experiment with “living robots” which think for themselves said they were amazed to find one escaping from the centre where it “lives”. The small unit, called Gaak, was one of 12 taking part in a “survival of the fittest” test at the Magna science centre in Rotherham, South […]