Thursday, January 13, 2005

Is there a connection?

You know how sometimes serendipity appears. Yesterday, I was on the phone talking with my supervisor (for my "real" job) and the phone rang. I put him briefly on hold, picked up the other line; it was the Executive Director of the Tidewater EMS Council, the host organization for the Tidewater CISM Team. I asked Jim if I could call him back. Not a problem. So, back to talk with George. After our conversation ended, I called Jim back. Says Jim, "I was wondering if you could give me some information about a guy who's been nominated to serve on our Board of Directors. You might know him. He supposedly works for the Coast Guard. His name is George Yacus."

Hmmm, yeh, I might know him... like I was just on the phone talking to him when Jim first called.

So then, I'm checking out the headlines and I come across these two stories and I wonder if they're somehow linked.

First, the FBI's new software is a disaster:

A new FBI computer program designed to help agents share information to ward off terrorist attacks may have to be scrapped, the agency has concluded, forcing a further delay in a four-year, half-billion-dollar overhaul of its antiquated computer system.

The bureau is so convinced that the software, known as Virtual Case File, will not work as planned that it has taken steps to begin soliciting proposals from outside contractors for new software, officials said.

The overhaul of the decrepit computer system was identified as a priority both by the independent commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks and by members of Congress, who found that the FBI's old system prevented agents from sharing information that could have headed off the attacks.

Since the attacks, Congress has given the FBI a blank check, allocating billions of dollars in additional funding. So far the overhaul has cost $581 million, and the software problems are expected to set off a debate over how well the bureau has been spending those dollars.
My first thought is that perhaps Google can provide the technological solution for the FBI. Okay, enough. Then there's the second story, which made the top of today's BBC's World News on NPR:
Jewish groups and lawmakers criticized Prince Harry on Thursday for wearing a Nazi uniform to a costume party, with one group urging him to visit the Auschwitz death camp, despite an apology from the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II.

The 20-year-old prince apologized Wednesday in a statement after a British newspaper printed a picture of him wearing the uniform with a swastika armband while clutching a cigarette and a drink at a party on Saturday.

"I think a lot of people will be disappointed to see that photograph and it will cause a lot of offense," said Michael Howard, leader of Britain's main opposition Conservative Party.

"I think it might be appropriate for him to tell us himself just how contrite he now is," added Howard, who is Jewish.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles expressed outrage and urged Prince Harry to travel to Poland later this month to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

"There he will see the results of the hated symbol he so foolishly and brazenly chose to wear," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the center.

Prime Minister Tony Blair's office was reluctant to get involved. "Clearly an error was made," Blair's official spokesman said. "That has been recognized by Harry, and I think it is better that this matter continues to be dealt with by (Buckingham) Palace."
So, here's what I'm wondering: do you see the serendipitous link between the Prince dressed as a Nazi and the FBI flubbing up their new database software?

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