"And I heard, as it were, the noise of thunder..."

Rugged men rise to stand for one of their own.

The moon turns to blood.

Tax day cometh, shrouded in unseasonal snow.

These are the things that myths are made of.

And I heard, as it were, the noise of thunder:
One of the four beasts saying: "Come and see." And I saw.
And behold, a white horse.

Lies, Damned Lies, and School Administrators

From the People's Republic of Cal-i-forn-eye-aye:

Cortines School's Greg Schiller was removed by L.A. Unified after two students' projects were deemed to resemble weapons.
Schiller was ordered to report daily to a district administrative office pending an investigation after two students turned in science-fair projects that were designed to shoot small projectiles. 
One project used compressed air to propel a small object but it was not connected to a source of air pressure, so it could not have been fired. 
L.A. Unified School District administrators have told Schiller that he was removed from his classroom for "supervising the building, research and development of imitation weapons," said union representative Roger Scott.
Eldest Daughter's science project last year was taking a blowtorch to various types of wood to measure the effect of density on combustion.  Based on this article, I can only assume that its mere presence in an LA school would have caused pants-wetting hysteria and an eight hour lockdown.

Of course, there may be more to the story:
Schiller, 43, also was the teachers union representative on the campus and had been dealing with disagreements with administrators over updating the employment agreement under which the faculty works. His suspension, with pay, removed him from those discussions.
Makes me wonder if Mr. Schiller happened to have, you know, any doubleplus ungood ideas.

One White Duck

Apologies for the light blogging lately.  Work has been busy, in a very good way; and I've been very effectively distracted by shadowy organizations and unexplained phenomena.

Must.  Read.  Them.  All!

Mo' better bloggination to resume shortly, I think (easy to promise, as just about anything is better than nothing at all.)  At least until Skin Game comes out, at which point I will probably disappear into a hole muttering something about "my precious".

"Ballistic Monte Carlo Methods"

How Mathematicians Used A Pump-Action Shotgun to Estimate Pi
If you’ve ever wondered how to estimate pi using a Mossberg 500 pump-action shotgun, a sheet of aluminium foil and some clever mathematics, look no further.
Why?  What do you mean, why?  Which part of "... fired 200 shots at the aluminium foil, peppering it with 30,857 holes" didn't you understand?

I think I will start to refer to range time as "ballistic Monte Carlo methods".  Or maybe just "doing some math".

Snark, Industrial Grade, 1 Post Of

Over at ITINIDKWI, Barry hits this one out of the park.
Dear Prospective Vendor,
Thank you for your interest in supplying goods and/or services to me. 
In order to gauge your suitability as a supplier, I’m going to need you to fill out this questionnaire explaining your position on some key political and social wedge issues: abortion, gun control, immigration reform, gay marriage, drug policy, the national surveillance state, and more... 
There is an essay portion, but really, the only thing that’s good for is either a groveling apology or extended Maoist ritual self-criticism in the event that we disagree about something (and clearly, you’d be the person in the wrong there.)
Go.  RTWT.

Life is Good

Solved a memory allocation problem at work today by groveling through hex dumps and tracking down a leak in a third-party security library by deduction.  Came home, put on a suit, and went up to the veteran's center to preach the gospel this evening.  Home now, sitting in my old farmhouse, listening to a Chinese-American goil downstairs strumming on an acoustic guitar, trying to teach herself how to play a Celtic tune written by a Canadian folk/fusion band.

Life is weird... and that is a good thing.

The Kalends of April

Just a reminder that today is April 1st.  As part of the traditional observations of April Fool's Day, Slashdot will be even more unreadable than usual.  Also, there will be a whole lot of... unusual... news stories today.  Take anything downright weird with a grain of salt.

Except for the initial Obamacare enrollment announcements.  Announcing those on April 1st?

Pure.  Comedy.  Gold.

What's even better is the certain knowledge that nobody in the current administration probably even considered the implications of the date.

The blind leading the clueless.

A Sheep Dog's Prayer

Saw this mentioned earlier today by the friend of a friend:
Lord, make my hand fast and accurate.
Let my aim be true and my hand faster than those who would seek to destroy me.
Grant me victory over my foes and those who wish to do harm to me and mine.
Let not my last thought be ‘If I only had my gun.’
And Lord, if today is truly the day you call me home, let me die in a pile of empty brass.

While it's new to me, this is apparently A Thing that has been around for a while - long enough to accumulate a t-shirt or two.


Item #: SCP-000

Object Class: Safe Euclid

Special Containment Procedures: SCP-000's DNS name and IP address locate a publicly known web site ("SCP Foundation") on the internet.  As it was is referenced by over 2 million different web pages and a popular independent video game at the time of discovery, actual containment is problematic, if not impossible at this point.  Instead, an active disinformation campaign (DI-████████) depicting SCP-000 as a "shared reality" fictional work is being pursued, with excellent results so far.

As part of new employee orientation procedures instituted as of ██/██/19██, SCP personnel are required to read orientation publication SCP-Alpha-1337 ("Shared Reality: Fact to Fiction") as they may be called upon at any time to support DI-████████.  D-class personnel, of course, are exempted from this requirement.

Description: SCP-000 is a website, reachable via the web address http://www.scp-wiki.net. It was initially published as a site purporting to be an expos√© of the SCP Foundation, "a secret organization dedicated to containing anomalous artifacts and entities that can threaten the normality of our world."  The author or authors of the original web site content are unknown; however, the amount of accurate detail present on the original site strongly implies that at least one high-level administrator within the Foundation was involved in its creation.

After taking control of SCP-000, determination was made that elimination of the site would only result in certain common personality types taking this as proof of the Foundation's existence.  Instead, the SCP-000 site was repurposed and actively developed as a "shared reality" fictional work, designated DI-████████.

SCP-000 is being run as a wiki, which allows outside editing.  Allowing non-Foundation personnel to participate in the construction of the "shared reality" is an integral part of the DI campaign centered around SCP-000.  However, despite extensive monitoring, improved site security, and frequent changes in the hardware and software used to run SCP-000, unapproved articles taken directly from Foundation records have continued to spontaneously appear on the site every 28 days, concurrent with observed full moonrise at 25°20'41S, 131°02'05E.  These unapproved articles appear even when the hardware running the site is powered down, disconnected from all external systems, partially disassembled, and enclosed within an evacuated chamber equipped with a Faraday cage. As a result, while SCP-000 was initially classified as safe, the continued appearance of these articles has resulted in SCP-000 being reclassified as euclid.

Foundation folklorists, documentation specialists, and DI personnel may request assignment to SCP-000 for a period of up to five (5) years, during which time they will be responsible for releasing scrubbed and altered DI versions of Foundation records and assisting in the maintenance of the "shared reality" fiction.  Additional duties will include monitoring content for  non-Foundation edits that may indicate potential security breaches, and ensuring that information related to [REDACTED] (or related categories such as: [REDACTED]) does not reach active XK status in the population at large.  As of ██/██/20██, approximately four percent (4%) of Foundation records have been altered and released on SCP-000 as part of DI-████████.  These text-only records consist of 300+ hours worth of reading material.

While the ultimate goal of DI-████████ is to provide a screen of plausible deniability for Foundation operations, locating and identifying potential Foundation recruits (Addendum SCP-000-A) is a high-priority secondary goal.

Addendum SCP-000-A: Recruiting

As Dr. ██████ has shown, interest in SCP-000 correlates strongly with the basic personality type profiles [1] used to select Foundation researchers and field team members. Foundation recruiting efforts have seen positive results simply by considering repeated access to SCP-000 as a preliminary HR screening tool.  Over the past ████████ years, this has been reflected in a 22% increase in the number of recruits progressing past initial Foundation contact, a 14% decrease in the five-year attrition rate for new researchers, and an amazing 63% reduction in the number of kinetic interview terminations.

New recruits sourced through SCP-000 tend to show strong interest in similar media, for example:
[1] As Doctor ██████ commented, "SCP-000 is like crack cocaine popcorn for these guys."
[2] Several recent recruits felt the need to qualify this with the statement, "minus that last one, it was complete garbage".

“So comes snow after fire..."

"... and even dragons have their ending.” - J. R. R. Tolkien

China is braced for a wave of industrial bankruptcies as its slowing economy forces companies with sky-high debts to the wall, the country's premier has said. 
Premier Li Keqiang told lenders to China's private sector factories they should expect debt defaults as the world's second largest economy encounters "serious challenges" in the year ahead. 
However, figures this week revealed that Beijing is copying the Japanese tactic of ramping up public infrastructure spending to replace the steep slowdown in private sector investment. Fixed asset investment, a measure of government spending on infrastructure, expanded 17.9% during the first two months of 2014, the National Bureau of Statistics said.
As Peter Grant has pointed out, there is more to the story than just a few insolvent companies in China.    He has a much more detailed write up on the high points of the current situation that is well worth reading, if you have the time.  If you don't... well, the tl;dr summary is, as he puts it, "the signs don't look healthy".

We live in interesting times.