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Friday, May 12, 2006

Sorry to Keep On 

One thing about data is: More doesn't mean Better. Yet people sometimes appear to think it does. "A bajilion records, wow! Now we're getting somewhere." But a database is only as good as the individual entries in it, and bad data (duplicate entries, inaccuracies, or poor indexing) can compromise the whole thing. Imagine if your telephone book had even a smattering of errors in it. Not all the names in strictly alphabetical order, some numbers just wrong. After you had tried to send out for Al-Qa'ida and ended up at Domino's a few times you'd soon decide that you couldn't rely on it. In other words, the mass of data sought by NSA will probably not be much use, since, from the story below, it is indiscriminately collected, and they would have trouble evaluating any of it. If you want to catch terrorists, you should do what the FBI has done in catching mobsters: find the suspects and then monitor them. The FBI didn't catch mobsters by tuning in to every conversation in the US in the hopes that something would fall into their lap, but by investigation. A bit like research.

Good Lord. Does this ever stop? FBI searches home of ex-CIA official.

Foggo, who resigned this week from his job overseeing day-to-day CIA operations, is under investigation over his ties to a defense contractor linked to the bribery case against former U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-California.

Cunningham pleaded guilty in November to accepting $2.4 million in bribes. He is serving an eight-year prison sentence.


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Watching TV is a good way to tear yourself away from the computer.