Saturday, 7 August 2010

Another METRO Story

As most of you know....I bring up the topic of METRO almost weekly here. Our local bus & subway service is always an adventure of sorts.

Last night....when folks probably should have already been home and halfway asleep....a fight started out at a METRO station (Gallery Place), and continued on at the L'Enfant station (I always pronounce Elephant if you were interested).

Based on what the guys say...seventy people were involved in this episode. At least four were injured enough for a trip to the hospital and three folks were arrested.

The cops are saying that they can't find a cause for the fight...it just happened.

I'm guessing some guy said something about another guy's woman. Then some other guy defended the ugliness of this gal. Then some gal got in the middle and accused everyone of being John McCain supporters....and then the whole mess went into a frenzy.

It'd be neat if these fights could be arranged as entertainment and regular passengers could just watch from a distance....like NASCAR, you know...but that's not to be.

So, another day in DC passes and I'm amazed at life in our capital.

A Wiki Moment

One of the first things I learned in the intelligence field....never be stupid enough to put classified info on a unclassified computer. Never, ever, do something stupid like that.

When I arrived at the Pentagon in January, my new organization let me know right away....if I screwed up....and classified accidentally got on my unclassified computer....there was a $10k charge to the unit. The unit could decide I got a portion of this bill (you can figure at least ten percent....maybe even thirty percent might be taken out of my wages).

So this week....almost two weeks after the WikiLeaks episode started with thousands of secret messages released to the world, the Pentagon finally came out and said that we were forbidden from cruising to the WikiLeaks site and downloading anything there .

You see.....even if WikiLeaks releases a 100,000 secret messages and they think this automatically declassifies them....it doesn't. The messages are still classified today.

I sat there on day one and knew this whole game. What amazed me is that the Pentagon took almost two weeks to say this. It's like a delay game. You'd expect this on day one but everyone just stood there like a deer in the headlights.

You Broke the Secret Law

Imagine for a moment that you lived somewhere...where you got a traffic ticket one day...then you asked the traffic cop what the ticket was for, and they basically refused to say. You ask them to cite the paragraph...and they refuse to answer that question.

So eventually...enough people around get upset and they go to the local TV network and explain this puzzling problem...because the political folks just won't get involved.

So the network goes out and they ask and receive a 110-page binder. It's a curious thing because there's the chapter over how traffic wardens should act. There's the chapter over when tickets should be issued.

Then you start to notice that various pages have been blacked out, which have to do with the rules which trigger tickets to be issued.

You go back and ask about this, and the traffic folks respond that if drivers knew this information...they would lose respect for traffic law and try to work around the rules. So these rules are kept secret. Yes, instead of obeying the rules...the public would try to get around them.

Then when you got to an irrated moment and started asking very intense questions, you learned that the traffic guys had this funny strategy...they wanted to make things simple so there would be no big arguments over the "small print", so this all made perfect sense.

You were kinda peeved about this and you actually wanted to dig into this mess...but then they said this was protected information and even the freedom of information rules didn't apply.

So you went off to the city chief parliamentarian who is the final judge on rules, and he agrees with you on this...there can't be secret traffic rules. Then your traffic folks decline to obey even this guy.

The town? Copenhagen, Denmark.

And you think you got problems?

Working for Kim

There's a funny story out of North Korea, which deserves mentioning.

There was this guy who was the chief of North Korean TV (Korea Central TV). At some point, he got 'radical' and actually ran capitalist-style commercials. We can't be sure of the message, or slant, or even if it involved "I've fallen and can't get up".

Since most North Koreans have never seen any TV programming other than what they run in North Korea....it's questionable if they even grasped that it was capitalist in nature.

Apparently, Kim Jong-Il did understand though. And he got into a fury about these western-style commercials.

So Kim not only fired the chief of the network, but the guy was to be re-educated. So the government sent him off to learn how to be a water utility worker.

Months passed.

Back in mid-May, Kim makes a trip to China and returns. The first thing he wanted to do...was chat with his chief of the network. So he calls the network and wants to speak his old associate.

The new guy kinda explained that the old boss had been tossed and sent off, which got Kim in a fury. It was one of those "I'm the boss and only I can toss someone" moments".

So the old boss got dragged out of his studies at water treatment, and dumped back into being the chief of TV for North Korea.

The nifty thing about this is that there is no 'sorry' at the conclusion. Kim doesn't have to appear on national TV to explain a misunderstanding. There's no CNN, MSNBC, or Fox slant to the story....you just see the old guy back at work the next day.

Then imagine an incident or two like this each week...maybe more. This is what makes North Korea a fascinating place...you could be totally corrupt and live a great life. You could be totally innocent and end up learning water treatment. Everything depends on a nut-job who runs the country.