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Homeland "Security"

By mcgrew in Op-Ed
Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 06:58:15 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)

I drove the hundred miles (160 kilometers) down to St. Louis from my home in Springfield, Illinois last Saturday, and I couldn't believe how much traffic there was on I-55.

Almost all of the cars had out of state license plates. Before 9-11, 9 out of 10 cars on the trip had Illinois tags. Now maybe 1 in 20 has Illinois plates.

Clearly, people don't like flying any more. And I don't think it's the terrorists keeping them away.

I haven't been on an airplane in twenty years or more. I absolutely hate flying and will avoid it whenever possible. I hate public transportation anyway, and planes have always been worse than trains or busses, as far as customer satisfaction goes. In any American public transport you are treated like cattle, but the airlines treat you like cattle with Hoof and Mouth disease.

But with the added "security" (i.e., hassling honest passengers with little chance of actually stopping a terrorist), from what I've read, air travel has changed from purgatory to sheer hell.

On top of that, it used to be faster to fly from Chicago to St. Louis. Not any more! Now you not only have the city traffic on the way to the airport slowing you down, you are told to arrive at the terminal an hour or two before your flight.

So let's see, a half hour to get to the airport, a two hour wait, most likely without cigarettes, and an hour flying time. Again without cigarettes. If you've never smoked there is no way for you to understand that this is torture that should be outlawed by the Geneva Convention.

Then there is the taxi ride through heavy airport traffic to get to where you actually want to go.

So it's taking a total of 3 1/2 to 4 hours from your house in Chicago to your brother's house in St. Louis. Without a cigarette, facing the prospect of being pulled from the line and strip searched like a criminal, and being treated like scum the whole way.

Or you can drive to your brother's house in four hours, spending less on gasoline than you would have spent on the taxi ride. You can smoke 'em if you got 'em, you don't have to breathe the stale airplane air and the unwashed assholes, you stand zero chance of being strip searched (without actually being arrested) or having your luggage lost.

It's set to get worse before it gets better. Reuters reports, quoting Simon Stringer, the managing director of QinetiQ's security business:

Another prospect in store for air travelers is "hyperspectral sensing" that will check for chemicals called pheromones, secreted by the human body, which may indicate agitation or stress.

"People under stress tend to exude slightly different pheromones, and you can pick this up ... There are sensing techniques we're working on," Stringer said.

Are you agoraphobic? Prone to panic attacks? Claustrophobic? Afraid to fly? Uncomfortable around crowds? Then you're going to have some cop's gloved finger up your rectal cavity.
As the passenger proceeds through the terminal, the next layer of surveillance could be carried out through "cognitive software" which monitors his or her movements and sounds a silent alarm if it picks up an unusual pattern.

"Someone who's been back in and out of the same place three times or keeps bumping into the same people might be something that's worthy of further investigation ... I think that's really the sort of capabilities we're going to be looking at," Stringer said in an interview.

So if you dare fly, you had better just get in line and stay there, lest you get pulled out of your line and strip searched.

I fear the traffic on my Springfield to St. Louis is about to become worse as they make air travel even more hellish. Time to write my congressman and have him push for some more highway construction.

Because, you know, the intelligent thing to do would be to harden the cockpits, put an armed Air Marshall or two on every flight, ventilate the cabins a hell of a lot more (enough to let the smokers smoke without bothering us non-smokers), and rip out the metal detectors. Because the next terrorist to try to take out an airplane won't use a box cutter, he'll use a broken bottle.

And the final thing they should but won't do is grow a spine! They should stop being such damned cowards with their "yellow" alerts and stripping away of our rights. You're going to die, whether from a terrorist attack, a car wreck, a mugger, or old age. Living in fear is stupid. Letting your government cause you to live in fear is even stupider.

But since government isn't about to grow a spine, have any respect for you or your rights, or do anything that might reek of common sense, we'd better just lobby for more highway construction.


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Homeland "Security" | 120 comments (87 topical, 33 editorial, 0 hidden)
The 2nd Amend. is Still the Law of the Land! (1.45 / 11) (#9)
by Peahippo on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 12:07:52 AM EST

This is a good article. It summarizes my concerns, and outlined the clear solution that the government, airlines, and yuppies want nothing to do with.

I'll never fly again if this is the way the industry treats passengers. Fuck 'em. I'll take any other mode of transportation ... even the dreaded Greyhound bus (The Transportation System of the Poor {tm}), so that I can avoid putting one thin dime into the pockets of these near-Fascists. (Of course, these staunch capitalists go running to the US Congress when they need money, so my cause is undermined.)

The clear solution is that the cockpit crew should be armed. Few hijackings would succeed against an armed cockpit crew.

  1. the government doesn't want that, since it implies armed power outside the sphere of their agents (police, FBI, and intelligence services)
  2. the airlines don't want that, since it gives cockpit crew even more authority, and the airlines are busily dismantling all employee rights
  3. the yuppies don't want that, since they are fucking retard asswipe yuppie shitbags who are only happy with guns in the hands of government agents
(The same thing applies to school shootings; if the teachers were armed, no student shooting spree would last for long.)

This problem is easy to solve. Too bad it will never happen.

So... (2.14 / 7) (#26)
by jd on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 05:35:06 PM EST

Instead of removing the problem, you'd rather add to it. Half the pilots fly drunk, the other half are nuts. They're not people I'd trust with a toothpick, never mind a Lugar.

The Second Amendment is not a law, it is a Constitutional amendment. An unclear one, which may actually have nothing to do with private gun ownership at all, in a country that has more gun crime than any other in the world bar Somalia.

(Except in Somalia, it's legal.)

From a Constitutional standpoint, there'd be nothing against a ban on all firearms. You'd still be entitled to bear arms, you'd just have a more restricted choice. No big deal. You can't buy a tactical nuclear weapon from Wal-Mart either. Besides, a recurve longbow has better accuracy and can't go off accidently.

From a safety standpoint, the Texas case where a dangerous prisoner was only able to become armed and dangerous BECAUSE people carried guns is proof enough that the whole notion that guns = safety is stupid.

(Guns don't equal danger - Switzerland has a higher gun/person ratio, but far less gun crime. But there is absolutely bugger all evidence that they have ever, or will ever, give anybody any safety whatsoever. The NRA claims otherwise, but only because they make money by saying so. You might as well believe Microsoft on computer security, or SCO on Intellectual Property. People say what they think will gain them the most, whether it is true or not, and I pity the fools who believe them blindly.)

[ Parent ]

Lugar? Texas case? (none / 1) (#27)
by Adam Rightmann on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 06:46:13 PM EST

Do you live in some parallel world?

Had the Atlanta thing gone down in Texas, a patriotic bystander who exercised his Second Amendment Rights would probably have killed the perpetrator as soon as he tried to take a car. I know Texans who have done the equivalent, and they walk free, because no Texas jury would convict them.

[ Parent ]

Actually (none / 1) (#67)
by hoops on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 11:43:53 AM EST

something similar did happen in Texas. David Hernandez Arroyo, armed with a semi-auto AK-47 clone, killed his ex-wife and was about to kill his son when a Texan with a license to carry a concealed handgun shot him several times. Unfortunately for the CHL holder, Arrory was wearing body armour.

More Info
Some More Info
Google's cache of the CNN page. I can't find it on cnn.com.
If I were a koala bear, the first thing I would do is urinate all over you and bi
Parent ]

The Court Deputy was carrying an AK-47? (none / 0) (#75)
by Adam Rightmann on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 01:15:23 PM EST

or do you mean something similar in that there was a shootout in a courtroom, which has no relevance to the parent comment about a criminal stealing a gun from a deputy.

[ Parent ]
Constitution Isn't Law? Go Back to School, Idiot. (1.33 / 6) (#28)
by Peahippo on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 08:41:37 PM EST

You made several errors.

If police and agents can be trusted to carry firearms, then anyone can. Hence, that applies to pilots. Note that we trust pilots to (gasp!) fly planes, which can be (and have been) used as weapons ... so trusting them with guns is hardly a mistake.

But this is all irrelevant. The Constitution is the law of the land. Saying the 2nd Amendment isn't a law is a falsehood. It applies to everyone, policeman, pilot, and yes, the common citizen. The common citizen has the right to keep and bear arms. Period. If said common citizen elects not to form an outright militia with his rights, that's his choice ... but the right to keep and bear arms is still retained.

The 2nd Amendment clearly applies to private gun ownership. Dickless wonders like yourself merely wish it doesn't, and flap your lips to promote the propaganda against it.

Your hostility towards the common man is blatant and totally unfounded. Go back and hide in your Liberally-dominated sociology classes if the reality of American legal system so disturbs you.

God, you're so stupid (or so conniving) that it's painful to watch.

P.S. The "can't buy a tactical nuclear weapon" argument is a tiresome one that has no application to discussions about personal armament.

[ Parent ]
The Second Amendment (2.75 / 4) (#36)
by the dead on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 02:39:08 AM EST

Doesn't establish a private right to own firearms apart from use in a well-regulated militia. This has been settled for 65 years.

[ Parent ]
Of course not (1.00 / 2) (#65)
by hoops on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 11:31:34 AM EST

The Bill of Rights does not grant rights.

Just in case you missed it, let me repeat it. The Bill of Rights does not grant rights.

The Bill of Rights recognizes some the rights we as people have simply be being born.

Also, assuming the OP is American and between the ages of 18 and 45, then he is a menmber of the US Militia. See the Militia Act of 1792. And, should the Militia be activated, he would be required to report with

a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of power and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and power-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a power of power; and shall appear so armed, accoutred and provided
Since the US Military no longer uses muskets or firelocks and have moved on to the M16A3 it seems that every male US citizen should be required to own a M16A3 and a quantity of 5.56 ammo. Or maybe that is just me wanting one, and not wanting to jump through all the hoops (he he) necessairy to get one :)

If I were a koala bear, the first thing I would do is urinate all over you and bi
Parent ]

The bill of rights does grant rights. (none / 1) (#70)
by the dead on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 12:07:34 PM EST

Don't be a fruitcake. People have the rights that others allow them and no more.

[ Parent ]
No it doesn't (none / 1) (#79)
by hoops on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 03:35:17 PM EST

The Ninth Amendment even says so "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

Just because some rights are listed here, does NOT mean those are the only rights people have. This was a reason some of the Founding Fathers did NOT want the Bill of Rights added. They, righly it seems, feared that people would think the rights listed there were the only rights that people had.
If I were a koala bear, the first thing I would do is urinate all over you and bi
Parent ]

You're hopelessly out of date. (none / 1) (#84)
by the dead on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 07:12:27 PM EST

Is the Ninth Amendment ever considered by any court? Not to speak of. It's irrelevant, and whatever the dead guys who wrote it intended, the system we have no is one in which the state grants rights to the citizens.

[ Parent ]
If this is so settled.... (none / 0) (#85)
by ckaminski on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 07:46:20 PM EST

Why are there 200+ million handguns in America?

[ Parent ]
"Half the pilots fly drunk"?? (2.50 / 2) (#39)
by Adiabatic Expansion on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 03:44:10 AM EST

There's my cue to stop paying attention to the rest of your comment.

[ Parent ]
schools (none / 1) (#46)
by cronian on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 04:48:06 PM EST

The pilots should have the option of being armed, although appropiate precautions should be taken about firing a gun on board an airplane.

However, schools are a bit more complicated. I think some teachers would end up shooting their students. Why should we have more armed government agents? Do you want to see an armed teacher's union?

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
[ Parent ]
Armed crew (3.00 / 2) (#59)
by thejeff on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 09:57:51 AM EST

In the past, hijackings would have succeeded against an armed crew, becauset the hijackers would simply take some little girl hostage and threaten to kill her unless the crew turned over their weapons. Since  the likely consequences of a hijacking were believed to be a unscheduled stopover in some third world country, with few to no fatalities, standard practice was not to resist.

Now, hijackings won't succeed against even an unarmed crew, because the passengers won't let it and they're going to massively outnumber hijackers in any realistic scenario. Stopping the hijackers, even at great risk, is now your best chance of survival.

About the only thing that changes the equation is if the passengers believe that the armed crew will take care of things, or a plain clothes Air Marshal is aboard and will handle it. Then they might sit back and wait to be saved.

Security to keep terrorists/bombs/etc off planes is still useful, but there won't be any more hijackings until we've forgotten the last one.

[ Parent ]

Pheromones? How about the mentally ill? (2.57 / 7) (#29)
by MichaelCrawford on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 10:13:04 PM EST

I guess I exude the chemicals those guys are looking for when under stress, because I am clinically paranoid, with a particular sensitivity to security guards and law enforcement personnel.

It's not that I worry that they're coming to arrest me. I worry that they're coming to kill me.

In the snowy climate where I've lived for several years, I sometimes have trouble maintaining my composure when snowplows go by. You see, they have flashing lights on top. They're always orange, unlike the red or blue of actual police cars, but paranoia strikes so instantaneously that it is only after I am in a panic that I try to reason with myself that it's only a snowplow.

Curiously, I've never been threatened by any actual police. It is The Thought Police which give me nightmares.

-- Noted Link Whore to Pay For Traffic - Renounces Errant Ways As Launches Ad Blitz

Dude, you seriously (2.00 / 4) (#34)
by The Amazing Idiot on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 12:41:49 AM EST

need to get a gun.

After all, if they ARE out to get you, might as well go out in style.

[ Parent ]

Unconstitutional discrimination regarding guns (3.00 / 3) (#44)
by MichaelCrawford on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 12:24:33 PM EST

I don't know about in Canada, but in the US one is not allowed to possess firearms for five years after a psychiatric hospitalization. This is one of the things they check for with that instant background check.

How this squares with either the Constitution or laws regarding the privacy of medical records I have no idea.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

[ Parent ]

Hm, yes, those bastards! (3.00 / 3) (#49)
by Adiabatic Expansion on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 11:13:58 PM EST

What a bad idea it must be to keep guns from people who, by their own admission, still have strong paranoid reactions in the presence (or imagined presence) of law enforcement.

[ Parent ]
Common Sense (3.00 / 3) (#63)
by catseye on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 10:45:11 AM EST

Maybe the purpose is simply to keep firearms out of the hands of psychotics.

I'd call that common sense.

How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?
[ Parent ]

You and Peahippo need to start a club. (none / 1) (#62)
by Harvey Anderson on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 10:12:31 AM EST

Always waa-hoo look at how fucked up I am, I was abused in such and such a way and my mind is so bizarre in this and that-a-way.

Gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay enough.

[ Parent ]

Airport Security (3.00 / 2) (#31)
by cronian on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 10:45:37 PM EST

Airport security isn't really that bad. You don't have to arrive more than hour before your flight. You have to go through security, but I don't think it is really much worse than it was before 9/11. They just pay a little more attention to your bags.

Some things have even gotten easier. They no longer have to ask if you've packed your bags, yourself. The only annoying thing is when they make you go through an extra security screening. However, all they do is scan you with a metal detector. It isn't all that bad.

I don't like all the intrusion into privacy with today's aiport security, and I don't like where it is heading. However, your getting overly paranoid about the aiport security.

Driving isn't always such a great solution. You have to pay the tolls, watch out for the police, and watch out for all the crazy drivers. As for privacy, we have the EasyPass toll system, Federal Highway Administration surveillance, and the friendly state/local police, who will pull you over and tell you that you are going too fast.

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
shoes (none / 1) (#73)
by anmo on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 12:54:45 PM EST

The only really annoying part is to have to walk barefoot through the metal detector. Recently they started asking you to remove your shoes even if you have sneakers. I think it makes no sense and that it stinks. True, you can always keep your shoes on, but then they'll behave like you're the most annoying person in the worlk and then they'll search you. I wish they got away with this absurd policy.

[ Parent ]
Actually (none / 0) (#80)
by cronian on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 05:37:12 PM EST

Everytime they tell me to remove my shows, I tell them I didn't before, and ask them if the rules have changed. They always tell me that technically, I don't have to remove my shoes, but if I don't remove my shows it is more likely the metal detector will go off and they'll have to wand me. However, the metal detector never goes off, so I assume that is all total bullshit.<So, I just tell them I'm willing to take the risk, and they let me walk straight thru.<br>
I don't know what the official policy is, or what their deal is, but I don't mind. Also, when they ask you to take off you shoes, they are just asking politely. If you ask them, if you have to, they always seem to say no.

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
[ Parent ]
Actually(OOPS I misposted the last comment) (none / 1) (#82)
by cronian on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 06:17:13 PM EST

Everytime they tell me to remove my shows, I tell them I didn't before, and ask them if the rules have changed. They always tell me that technically, I don't have to remove my shoes, but if I don't remove my shows it is more likely the metal detector will go off and they'll have to wand me. However, the metal detector never goes off, so I assume that is all total bullshit. So, I just tell them I'm willing to take the risk, and they let me walk straight thru.

I don't know what the official policy is, or what their deal is, but I don't mind. Also, when they ask you to take off you shoes, they are just asking politely. If you ask them, if you have to, they always seem to say no.

Also, one time I had a balancing man, thing, which has a sharp bottom, that bounces back and forth. It is a little metal thing, which is as sharp as a pencil. When it went through the x-ray, security found it, and took it out. The women called over her supervisor. I explained to him what it is, he looked at me for a sec, and then let me through.

I don't know what it is about me, but security never gives me any trouble, when I'm alone. I suppose it might be the way I act. Here is my theory of who they go after. This advice is geared towards urban areas. For rural areas, or for cities who don't think they're a real city, different advice will probably apply.

First and foremost, I think security guards or people in authority generally harass most whoever they think looks the most vulnerable and is least likely to complain.

Next, they go after those, who fit the criminal stereotypes, and who they think they can cause the most trouble for, so they can assholes toward the "bad guys".

Next, they might go after those people, who they actually believe are the criminals. Actually, catching real criminals can be a pain, and so I think they avoid these people as much as possible. When they do go after the real criminals, they focus on the minor offendors first, because they are least likely to put up serious resistance. The exception to this is that there are do-gooders, and other types, who actually care.

So, the thing you need to figure out at the airport is how to put yourself, in the group that they bother with the least. If your skin happens to be the wrong color, that can put you at a disadvantage. Don't be too polilte, because it can make you look like an easy victim, or possibly a criminal, trying to be slick. If you are too impolite, that will label you a stereotypical criminal. Be rude enough, that they know you will give them trouble, if they bother you, but don't too much ruder.

For instance "Hello, sir" is too polite. "Lot people here", and then hand your I.D. to the guy. Use body language to indicate, you will make it a lot of trouble, if they give you trouble, but make it quick and easy for them to let you pass on through. Do NOT give them time to think, or question you. Pre-empt their questions with short and simple answers. Make them stopping you into a confusing thing. More times than not, people will take the path of least resistance.

For rural areas or other areas, which think they have their own culture or something, differently. I don't know how to deal with those situations as well. However, I'd assume they would bother more, whoever they consider an outsider. Showing them greater deference, and being real polite is probably a better idea, there.

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
[ Parent ]
Shoes (none / 0) (#110)
by cburke on Fri Apr 01, 2005 at 07:52:38 PM EST

Everytime they tell me to remove my shows, I tell them I didn't before, and ask them if the rules have changed. They always tell me that technically, I don't have to remove my shoes, but if I don't remove my shows it is more likely the metal detector will go off and they'll have to wand me. However, the metal detector never goes off, so I assume that is all total bullshit. So, I just tell them I'm willing to take the risk, and they let me walk straight thru.

I hate taking off my shoes.  It's humiliating, and the implication that I must be a moronic terrorist like the Shoe Bomber irks me as well.  

I wear hiking boots, and they normally don't set off the alarm.  The guards always ask me to take them off, and I say "they won't set off the alarm", and they'll warn me they'll have to search me if it does go off but they let me try.  It doesn't go off, I go on with my travel experience with all my dignity intact.  Of course, the one time the guard gave me the most crap about taking off my shoes and was the least willing to let me go through, it went off.  So not only did I have to subject myself to trudging through barefoot and getting wanded, I also looked like a jackass for arguing with the guard.  That was great.

[ Parent ]

Where have you been flying? (none / 0) (#81)
by hatshepsut on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 05:42:31 PM EST

I haven't seen a single thing that has gotten easier about flying.

Around here, they still ask if you packed your own bags. You also have to get to the airport 2 hours before a national flight, and 3 hours before an international one. The metal detectors are so sensitive that I swear they pick up metal fillings in your teeth. I have had to shuffle through metal detectors without my shoes on (not every time, but I never had to do that before). I even had them try to take away a tiny (less than 2" long) plastic thermometer than I used to have on my coat zipper. Sure, it was a buck, and was a bit of a joke, but it was 1) mine, and 2) no danger to anyone.

My last trip through the States was even worse (it wasn't even my final destination). I had my luggage hand searched by some leering bozo, covered by a man in a uniform carrying a large gun. Twice. Said bozo fondled through everything in my suitcase, occasionally removing some item and holding it up for the entire line to see. How was that security-related?

There is no reason for most of the so-called security measures that have become so "popular" with airports. They do not improve security, they make someone feel better (I don't know who...certainly not I!).

[ Parent ]

Various Airports (none / 0) (#83)
by cronian on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 06:38:20 PM EST

I think they give me the least trouble at O'Hare, although it hasn't been too bad at other places. What airports are you going through?

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
[ Parent ]
Trains are worse. (2.20 / 5) (#32)
by Kasreyn on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 10:54:25 PM EST

So are buses. Sorry to be blunt, but train stations are typically run down and disease-infested, usually with restrooms so scary you're afraid to take a dump because you have lurid mental pictures of cutting your ass on a rusty piece of metal and getting tetanus. Bus stations are about as bad. Plus even WITH the waits at terminals and WITH the searches and WITH the hassle, it's still fucking faster if you're travelling more than 300 miles.

If you've never smoked there is no way for you to understand that this is torture that should be outlawed by the Geneva Convention.

To be even more blunt, cry me a fucking river. No one made you light the first one up. Thank god I've never smoked so I can't understand your whine.

While I have my own beliefs about "terror alerts" - that their sole purpose is to keep the populace afraid and therefore biddable - I feel constrained to point out that buses are pretty harmless and trains can't go very far without tracks, whereas planes are basically flying bombs.

P.S. I do share your worry about the "hyperspectral" sensing thing. Does anyone know what you call an avoidance of crowds due to fear of disease? Is there a name for that? I don't mind enclosed spaces, I just hate breathing air someone just sneezed into. I'm sure it affects my stress level a good deal.

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
Train stations (none / 0) (#78)
by NoBeardPete on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 03:10:19 PM EST

I suppose this depends on where you are, but I've always found train stations to be generally clean and pleasant. I've mostly seen the train stations in the North-East corridor (Boston, Providence, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, etc). All of them seem comparably clean to an airport, but they're generally more spacious, and less of a hassle to get in and out of.

At this point, it's often cheaper to fly between any of these cities than to take the train. But the train has an advantage in that you can buy a ticket 10 minutes before leaving, and still pay the same price. And if you're travelling from one downtown area to another, the travelling on either end is much easier. It's a bit of a toss up.

Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

Maybe it's just train stations in FL :P -nt (none / 0) (#109)
by Kasreyn on Fri Apr 01, 2005 at 04:34:54 AM EST

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Happiness is a new idea (none / 1) (#33)
by Magnetic North on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 10:55:39 PM EST

Who wants a world where the guarantee of not dying of terrorism brings the risk of dying of boredom.

This concerns everyone.


-1, hypocr-1tical bullsh-1t (1.66 / 9) (#35)
by balsamic vinigga on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 01:09:58 AM EST

Living in fear is stupid.

So why the FUCK would you go spreading a buncha FUD about flying.  Especially when:

I haven't been on an airplane in twenty years or more


I've flown several times since 9/11,  the last time I flew, a arrived 10 min. before my flight took off, and they took care of me and got me on the plane.  The added security was all a show, PR to make the dumb-masses feal safe.  Oh?  I have to take a sip from my water bottle? Give me a break.  As much as i woulda liked a cavity search, I didn't get any.

Flynig ain't changed much.

Most airports have a smoking lounge.  And fuckin A you ain't gonna smoke in something that gets NO OUTSIDE AIR THE ENTIRE FLIGHT.  They have to recycle all the air in the airplanes.

People so addicted to nicotine they can't sit still for a few hours without a smoke?  I could give a shit less about them.

Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!

FYI... (3.00 / 4) (#45)
by gordonjcp on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 01:48:41 PM EST

Cabin pressure is maintained by drawing air in from the early compressor stages of the engines and APU.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.

[ Parent ]
but (none / 0) (#61)
by crazy canuck on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 10:04:30 AM EST

that doesn't mean fresh air is getting in. The air is recycled.

air at 10000 meters is rarified. that's why oxygen masks drop down if the plane is depressurised.

[ Parent ]

Uhm, no... (none / 0) (#88)
by gordonjcp on Tue Mar 29, 2005 at 05:48:47 AM EST

That's *exactly* what it means. Air at around 11psi is allowed into the cabin from just aft of the first compressor stage. This maintains cabin pressure at the equivalent of 8,000 feet above sea level, a little below the point where altitude sickness would affect most people.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.

[ Parent ]
It's a common misconception (none / 1) (#104)
by kitten on Thu Mar 31, 2005 at 01:10:29 PM EST

But you're right. Air is constantly being pumped into the cabin from the compressors in the engine. They're also what power those minuature hurricanes your seat-neighbor always turns on and aims at you while you're sleeping.

This is also why, despite people's panicking, shooting a gun in a plane won't suck everyone off into space. The plane has two enormous holes in it anyway -- they're there to keep the fuselage from exploding from all that air being pumped into it. The holes (sometimes there's more than two) are closed and opened -- this is how pressure is regulated. Blow a hole through the plane with a gun, and all you'd have to do is close the pressure holes some more.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
Unless... (none / 0) (#108)
by gordonjcp on Fri Apr 01, 2005 at 02:54:28 AM EST

... the pressure hull started to tear. Or you cracked a seam. That would suck.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.

[ Parent ]
I agree, flying these days is bullshit. (3.00 / 3) (#37)
by Adiabatic Expansion on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 03:34:50 AM EST

After acquiring this wonderful cold from my latest endeavour into the friendly skies, I can think of several reasons besides the security that flying sucks. But they all pale in comparison to the sheer amount of hassle and degradation you go through in "security".

Both times on my round trip, I've been singled out for traveling alone and carrying a laptop, meaning I have to be wanded, patted down and generally treated like a terrorist. On my last round trip, I had my bike tools confiscated because apparently hex wrenches presented a huge threat to public safety. Whoops! There goes twenty dollars! Adding insult to injury, the TSA guy who was trying to console me about it mentioned that he had tools for his bike too, so he "felt for me." Yeah, buddy, enjoy your new tools you just stole from me. Asshole.

Unfortunately, over non-trivial distances (honestly, St. Louis to Chicago is just a bunch of whining. Take the hot poker out of your ass and just drive it, you big pussy) driving is not an option, especially when I'm afforded very few days for vacation. So I fly.

Incidentally, I imagine if you had a pilot's license, flying a private plane between two airports in the two metropolitan areas (not necessarily the big ones, mind you) would be considerably faster than either option.

Single traveller with laptop (none / 0) (#55)
by 87C751 on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 09:00:33 AM EST

...isn't necessarily a ticket to the selectee line. I've made 4 trips in the last month and a half. All travelling alone, and with a laptop, cell phone, bluetooth headset and my little bag of essential connectivity accessories (thumb drives, wireless and ethernet cards, flash reader, chargers and associated cables). The worst I suffered was having to remove my sneakers.

Granted, this is a better track record than the last time I flew, a little over a year ago. It's still a hassle, though, and I get annoyed at being treated as a presumptive criminal.

My personal threshold is around 6 hours. If I can drive it in that time, I drive. Because between the 'arrive early' "rule", parking, parking lot shuttle, security, getting through the car rental line (though Avis Preferred cuts that down a lot) and out of the destination airport, you're going to kill at least 6 hours on even the most trivial of trips.

My ranting place.
[ Parent ]

I feel for you, too... (none / 0) (#100)
by PhoTwenny on Wed Mar 30, 2005 at 02:05:58 AM EST

One time my wife had this small (1"x2") football-shaped multitool with 1" screw and hex drivers. The guy said he had to take it.  Then he kept trying to assure us that no one was going to keep it, he wasn't going to keep it, it would be destroyed, and he felt bad about it, but that's what he has to do.  I guess he didn't want us to be mad at him, or something.  Whatever, dude.  Its not his fault he has to enforce stupid rules, and I don't need him giving me more shit when I'm annoyed with the whole process.  Just do your job, and accept that people will hate you for it.

As for the private plane, short of a multi-million dollar jet, its not faster by a long shot.  I'm starting my flying lessons, and looking to buy a single-engine plane in a few years.  It has a 700 mile range and cruises at about 160-200mph.

A 3000-mile cross-country commercial flight takes about 5 hours, plus the 2 hours prior to the flight, and maybe another hour or so to and from the airport.

That same distance would require about 5 hops of 3-4 hours flying time each plus takeoff, landing, and any circling for clearance.  Plus time on the ground checking the plane, meals, and refueling at each stop.  Flying more than 2 legs in a day probably isn't very safe (due to fatigue) or fun.

Its probably not cheaper, either.

On the other hand, you can fly pretty much whenever you want.  You don't need to buy a non-refundable ticket a week or two in advance, and you won't have to take your shoes off, at the stern request of some high-school dropout with an attitude problem.

I'm also fully open to the idea that I have an attitude problem, but prior to the "hightened security efforts", air travel didn't piss me off.

[ Parent ]

To paraphrase GWB (2.42 / 7) (#43)
by trezor on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 08:53:43 AM EST

You're either with added airport security or you're with the terrorists.

Richard Dean Anderson porn? - Now spread the news

In Soviet USIA, Pilot Hijacks YOU! (2.87 / 8) (#47)
by bjlhct on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 05:28:31 PM EST

Seriously though, with hardened cockpits, if the copilot turns out to be a terrorist, there ain't a thing you can do when he KOs the pilot and steers you into the Chrysler building. A real solution to hijacking would be to have a cryptographically secure override system that requires either a trigger from the cockpit or a multi-key activation system on the ground similar to those at nuke silos that when activated cuts off all communication to the plane, overrides the controls in the plane to let ground control land the plane safely, and of course sets off an alarm so everybody can watch what happens in case the guy at ground control and the copilot are both "terrists."

Seriously though, Osama is a very avante-garde kind of guy, and plane hijacking a la 9/11 is soooo done before, soooo 4 years ago. Especially with the incompetence at our anti-terrorism organizations, the next time we get hit by terrorists, which will happen eventually what all the people we pissed off currently being in the "plotting" stage, it will probably be something nobody thought about enough to really protect against, just like 9/11 was - there may not even be the warning not taken seriously like there were for 9/11. We're talking about people who use a serious portion of their life to plan one big event. When you're going to martyr yourself spectacularly, you do your homework.

[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism

How can you tell if the copilot hijacks a plane? (none / 1) (#76)
by Adam Rightmann on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 01:18:05 PM EST

I doubt if most passengers know enough about the landscape eight miles below to tell what exact course they're on.

The simplest solution is to only allow pilots and copilots that are members of Christian Churches that have a history of recognizing the Sanctity of Life, such as Roman Catholics.

[ Parent ]

Gunshots? (none / 0) (#86)
by bjlhct on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 07:55:02 PM EST

The sound of a head hitting the dashboard? A flight attendant seeing what happened?

Ground control noting a plane going off course?

Sanctity of Life folks have no problem with the death penalty, which the 9/11 hijackers considered themselves justly condemning their victims to.

[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]

Sacntity of life (none / 0) (#87)
by the womble on Tue Mar 29, 2005 at 01:36:08 AM EST

Sanctity of Life folks have no problem with the death penalty

Firstly I assume the parent post is joking (it made me laugh anyway)

Secondly, if you are going to take him seriously, notice he specifically mentioned Roman Catholics who do have a problem with the death penalty - at least the church officially opposees it, although you might find individuals (especially in the US) who support it.

[ Parent ]

Well, it seemed (none / 0) (#94)
by bjlhct on Tue Mar 29, 2005 at 08:01:21 PM EST

that the first part was serious and the second part joking, and I responded oppositely.

[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]
How does Ground Control contact (none / 0) (#102)
by Adam Rightmann on Wed Mar 30, 2005 at 04:41:41 PM EST

the passengers? Also, for my recent flights, the cockpit door remains shut unless an attendant opens it.

[ Parent ]
Cellphones? (none / 0) (#103)
by bjlhct on Wed Mar 30, 2005 at 05:55:20 PM EST

And besides, people probably aren't going to stand for hijackings now. Guys with box cutters can't hold out a 10v1 fight with guys with laptops. The closed doors may be a bad idea.

And anyway, you asked how passengers could tell if there was a hijacking. I gave reasons why passengers and ground control could each tell if there was a hijacking - labeling was not necessary because which is which is obvious. Try reading your own post.

[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]

You should try flying (none / 0) (#106)
by Adam Rightmann on Thu Mar 31, 2005 at 10:18:05 PM EST

you have to turn off cellphones. Also, how many cellphones have published names, and who's going to believe a random caller is Ground Control.

[ Parent ]
Pfft. (none / 0) (#107)
by bjlhct on Thu Mar 31, 2005 at 11:05:33 PM EST

Nobody cares during a hijacking. They really have no effect other than annoying other passengers. Your second sentence makes no sense.

[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]
Flying is no worse than before 9/11 (none / 1) (#51)
by spectra72 on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 03:18:35 AM EST

It's still a craptacular experience akin to packing cattle into a railcar in order to take them to slaughter, but no worse than before 9/11. Actually, getting to the plane itself is a bit easier these days, at least here in Denver. No one is allowed past the security checkpoints without a boarding pass, so now you don't have mom, grandma and the 5 screaming kids waiting to see dad off at the gate. Also, in order to minimize the wait at the security line, they actually staff the checkpoints with more than 1 person manning 1 line. I actually get through security *faster* now.

All in all, the airport experience is better now I would say. Flying is still sucky, not due to any fear of flying though, rather, the way that airlines do studies on exactly how uncomfortable they can make passengers before they start losing money..and then they try to keep very close to that point to maximize profits. Squeeze the seats in tighter to maybe eek out 1 extra row of paying passengers. Eliminate the already crappy meal. Though, that may be a blessing actually. The list goes on. Frankly, if I can drive to my destination in 12 hours or less, that's what I'd prefer to do over flying.

Yes, it's worse. (none / 0) (#90)
by ghjm on Tue Mar 29, 2005 at 11:14:22 AM EST

You didn't have to take your shoes off pre-9/11. For some reason, that's the part of the whole exercise that really galls me. I'm not sure why.


[ Parent ]

Hit or Miss (none / 0) (#93)
by spectra72 on Tue Mar 29, 2005 at 03:25:45 PM EST

I've found the "take off your shoes" requirement to be hit or miss. Some airports require it, others don't. Sometime I'll have to take my shoes off here in Denver, but if I fly 2 weeks later I won't. Haven't figured out a pattern yet.

The biggest hassle I've had traveling was one trip *into* Canada. The Immigration People didn't seem to keen on letting me in once I told them I was demo'ing some software for fellow employees in our Calgary office. "Are you selling it? No. Why are you demo'ing if you're not selling? It's a free product, and I'm demo'ing it for people who work for the same company that I do. Are you sure you won't be selling it?" Sheesh. At least they didn't give me a body cavity search like that blogger claims happened to him on the way into the US.

[ Parent ]

It's arbitrary (none / 0) (#119)
by paranoid on Mon Apr 11, 2005 at 05:04:50 PM EST

Because it's an arbitrary and humiliating requirement. There really is no reason to check the shoes, but they have the power to force you.

It's relatively reasonable to pass through the metal detector, it's reasonable to send your baggage through the X-ray machine. There probably have been some cases in the past, when attackers carried guns with them or when a bomb was sent in one of the bags.

But removing the shoes is pointless, since in most likelyhood there will never ever be a single terrorist who would carry a glass/plastic/flint knife/bomb in his shoes. That's why it is so humiliating.

I have never had to remove my shoes and if I am forced to do it, I think I might rather refuse it and stay home. The only thing more humiliating (and pointless) would be a cavity search.

[ Parent ]

Recent Trip With My Knife (3.00 / 8) (#53)
by PunkAssBitch on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 08:34:52 AM EST

The flying experience itself isn't that much worse than it ever was from a security perspective, nor are the TSA personel as evil as you might suspect. Unfortunately, the real evils are much worse.  

As an example: last week I attempted to pass through security with a small knife with a plastic sheath in my backpack.  My wife and I bought it to cut open coconuts on an other trip (it performed poorly for this job).  The TSA guys gathered excitedly around the X-ray when my pack went through, then rummaged around my bag with latex gloves until my red plastic dagger was finally fished out.  Although I was born in the USA and have lived here my entire life, I am of Middle Eastern heritage, as is clear from my features and last name - so naturally, I expected this little slip up to result in me ending up in a back room somewhere where I would form the bottom right pillar in a nude human pyramid along with various other suspects caught at the gate with nailclippers and pocket knives. This did not happen - they simply gave me the option of taking the knive back to my car vs. surrendering it to TSA, then wrote down my name and address so they could mail me a letter explaining what items are allowed on a plane.  As far as I can tell, most of these guys aren't crazed ex-torturers and prison guards looking for a chance to sodomize unsuspecting passengers.  And, screening baggage going into a plane's hold is something that should have been done long ago.

However, I do agree whole heartedly that many OTHER pieces of the post-9/11 knee jerk reaction are flawed in criminal ways.  An incompotent president who failed to heed warnings flung at him like various bricks to the side of the head has somehow managed to turn some of the worst administrative negligence in recent history into his biggest strength.

9/11 should have been prevented in the first place, but even now the event is still being used as the primary cog in a machine built to limit freedom, encourage fear, and provide justification for unrelated military actions (yes, I mean the Iraq war).

For example, many Americans, like frightened sheep,  are now afraid to go anywhere outside of their country - forget the fact that getting terrorised in any way is about as likely as finding gold in your suburban backyard.  Many of those same Americans STILL also believe that the Iraq war is somehow related to 9/11 terrorism!  These are the real problems - marketing 9/11 to push this sort of fear and misinformation is the true crime.

On the useless-for-terror knife (3.00 / 3) (#56)
by 87C751 on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 09:09:48 AM EST

A couple years back, I forgot to remove my Swiss Army Signature Lite from my key ring. Notwithstanding that this is hardly the weapon of choice for the discriminating terrorista, the security guys gave me three choices:
  1. Surrender the knife (which, at a $50 retail, wasn't even an option).
  2. Be escorted out of the security envelope to the Business Accomodation Center, where I could mail it to myself. That, of course, included a free 55-minute second trip through the security line.
  3. Be escorted 11 feet to the FedEx kiosk, where I could ship it to myself.
I chose the latter. While I was addressing the package, I casually asked "So, do you guys get a kickback from FedEx on this stuff?" Then I realized what I'd said. Oh, shit!

Fortunately, the security guy had the last vestiges of a sense of humor.

My ranting place.
[ Parent ]

The $4 knife (none / 1) (#77)
by glor on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 02:34:11 PM EST

They have them at one of the discount car-parts stores, AutoZone or Advance Auto Parts.  They are cheap, sharp, lock open, and can be opened and closed with one hand.  I have three or four of them now.  The TSA has one too.

Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
[ Parent ]

Don't planes have a luggage compartment (none / 0) (#118)
by paranoid on Mon Apr 11, 2005 at 04:59:16 PM EST

One those few occasions when the airport security didn't like my Swiss army knives, they simply put them in a A4 envelope, wrote my name on it and threw it with all the luggage. At my destination I just had to pick it up from the baggage carousel along with my bags.

I seriously don't understand why the same can't be done everywhere. It's not like passengers^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H terrorists have access to the baggage compartment during the flight.

[ Parent ]

Confiscated my shampoo (3.00 / 7) (#58)
by IAmNos on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 09:31:49 AM EST

On a recent flight to Hawaii, my wife and I both had our shampoo and conditioner confiscated by airport security. We ha picked up smaller generic travel bottles with not labels on them and transferred the liquids from our regular bulk size bottles to these clear plastic smaller bottles that would hold more than enough for us for the week we would be on vacation. As usualy, we put most of our bathroom stuff on carry on (I've had my luggage lost almost as often as not). Upon going through the X-Ray machine, our bags were opened and we were questioned about the contents of these clear plastic containers. They told us we wouldn't be allowed to take them on the plane. What could we do? We had taken a cab to the airport so we had noone we could "surrender" them to. For next time, the guy told us, your shampoo and conditioner or similar items must be int he manufacturers original packaging. I thought about this while we waited to board. I guess if you are a terrorist and plan to bring a dangerous chemical on board, all you have to do is put in a shampoo bottle. If you do you're fine. If you put it in a generic, unmarked container, they'll confiscate it.
[ Parent ]
The Atlantic (3.00 / 3) (#54)
by kamera on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 08:47:05 AM EST

There was a good article in the Atlantic Monthly a while back about how useless it is to spend $4 billion a year to "pat down grandma." And seriously, what self-respecting terrorist would have an ID card that didn't match his passport or plane ticket?

Anyway, flying has always been a bit of a pain. Yet we spend hundreds of dollars to do it because, in the big picture, it is a massive convenience. Once broadband on airlines becomes ubiquitous, you won't have much to complain about. Plus, they still let you drink on flights. As a guy who likes his brewskis, that should keep you appeased.

"Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live." -- Oscar Wilde

Pain of flying (none / 1) (#112)
by Mitheral on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 02:06:56 PM EST

Flying hasn't always been a "bit of a pain". At one time in the not too distant past, say mid 80s, you could: walk up to a ticket counter 15 minutes before a flight; pony up the last minute price for a ticket in cash; pash your carry on thru an x-ray machine; and make your way onto a plane. Except for the fact that airports tend to the edge of towns catching a plane was no more difficult than catching a bus. Note that none of those steps involved get half or totaly naked. Latex gloves weren't required by anyone and you didn't even have to show your "papers".

[ Parent ]
Torture? (2.83 / 6) (#57)
by gidds on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 09:15:38 AM EST

Sorry, but I can't resist commenting on this:

without cigarettes. If you've never smoked there is no way for you to understand that this is torture that should be outlawed by the Geneva Convention.

And if you do smoke, there's probably no way for you to understand just what torture it can be not being able to breathe without coughing your guts up...

Seriously. Last time I subjected myself to a very smoky room for an hour (a comedy cafe), it was a couple of hours before I got my voice back again, I was coughing so much. (I wouldn't do it again, even if it was another big name with paid tickets.)

You chose to become addicted to nicotine. Deal with the consequences. If those involve having to do without your precious fix for a couple of hours, tough. Why should it affect my health?


Good story otherwise.


There might be something wrong with you. (none / 1) (#60)
by Harvey Anderson on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 10:03:49 AM EST

Being in a smoky room for an hour should not cause anyone to lose their voice.

[ Parent ]
You do realize ... (none / 0) (#66)
by Mr.Surly on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 11:41:09 AM EST

... that it's fucking smoke, right?  You know, carbon monoxide and other toxins, that in stronger concentrations kill people rather quickly.

[ Parent ]
When was the last time (none / 1) (#68)
by Harvey Anderson on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 11:49:47 AM EST

you exited a smoky bar or club at closing time and most of the people milling about on the sidewalk had lost their voices?

[ Parent ]
You mean ... (none / 0) (#69)
by Mr.Surly on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 11:53:48 AM EST

... the people who are used to being in smokey bars?

Here in California, my cigarette smoke exposure is close to zero. After about 5 minutes in a Las Vegas casino, I feel like I want to die.  Just because it's possible to become accustomed to it doesn't mean it's not irritating to others.

[ Parent ]

Maybe for some people there (none / 0) (#71)
by Harvey Anderson on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 12:14:16 PM EST

is some weird reaction to smoke but I doubt you could show it's widespread.

[ Parent ]
Oh, come on (none / 0) (#64)
by Sgt York on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 11:18:15 AM EST

I normally like your posts, but are you trying to propagate your "grumpy old man" stigma?

You haven't flown in 20 years, but you are going to complain about how much the changes in air travel over the past 5 years suck so bad? I'm no globetrotter, but I do fly around the country on a fairly regular basis, about once every few months. It gets bad at some airports sometimes, but generally it's not so rough. I have gotten to the terminal 10 minutes before departure and been allowed on the plane, with encountering nothing worse than a slightly surly aircrew and a few annoyed looks from passengers. It's really not a lot worse today than it was 10 years ago. The only major change is the baggage x-ray, which IMHO is something that should have been done decades ago, anyway.

The articles you referenced were proposed additions, much like the face recognition software (which failed miserably and is not used now). And come one, grow a spine? It's really brave to sprint across I-55 in heavy traffic, right? There is being courageous, and there is being foolhardy.

Yes, hardened cockpits and routine air marshalls would be a wonderful addition. Sure, they would help and would be a welcome addition. But the stuff that is being done now is minimally intrusive (at least, it has been for me) and almost certainly helps some.

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.

Do you really believe that? (none / 0) (#98)
by PhoTwenny on Wed Mar 30, 2005 at 01:16:14 AM EST

"Minimally intrusive" ???

I have to arrive 2 hours early.  For what?  So I can take off my rubber and canvas shoes?  Show my ID and/or boarding pass multiple times?  To be harrassed and lectured by TSA agents?  To stand in the extra long lines caused by these ridiculous measures, hoping I don't get "randomly" selected for further searches (fortunately I'm white, so I don't have as much stress as someone who is racially less "random").

How about secret laws (like the ID requirement) that they don't have to show you, but they can enforce anyway?  (Did that get shot down yet?)

How about my personal data being secretly taken from the airlines in order to "test" new profiling systems, and passed around to "consultants" or whoever else wants to buy them from the TSA.  (It happened... check google news.)

Oh, but it "certainly helps some", you say???

Nothing that they are doing now would have stopped what happened on 9/11/01.  Its been a hugely expensive waste of money.  Hardened cockpits probably would have stopped those hijackings; if they can't get to the controls, they can't pilot the plane into a building.

Armed air marshalls probably could have stopped them, too.  If you bring a box cutter to a gunfight, you're gonna lose.

Checking IDs doesn't improve security.  Everyone has an ID, even the 9/11 pilots.  The only thing ID checks do is make sure you don't sell your ticket to someone else (though flaws in the way they do the checks actually makes it easier for someone else to use your ticket).  It also makes it easier for them to pick out the European white people from the American white people for "random" searches.

Just because they claim it's "for security reasons", it doesn't mean it makes air travel any more secure.

Ironically what makes me feel most secure about air travel these days is that the "terrorists" have already done the plane thing, and I figure they probably won't do the same thing again.

[ Parent ]

Easier to sell tickets? (none / 0) (#105)
by rodentboy on Thu Mar 31, 2005 at 01:19:02 PM EST

The only thing ID checks do is make sure you don't sell your ticket to someone else (though flaws in the way they do the checks actually makes it easier for someone else to use your ticket).

How is it easier to trade tickets now? Just curious.

[ Parent ]
Check schneier's article (none / 0) (#116)
by PhoTwenny on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 08:50:12 PM EST

here's the link


It exploits a disconnect between the multiple checks.

[ Parent ]

Terrorists or not ....... (3.00 / 2) (#74)
by ccdotnet on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 12:55:25 PM EST

Clearly, people don't like flying any more. And I don't think it's the terrorists keeping them away.

.... fact remains you're more likely to die if you make that 600 mile trip in a car than in a plane.

Well, not necessarily. (3.00 / 2) (#89)
by ghjm on Tue Mar 29, 2005 at 11:05:05 AM EST

According to a quick Google search, the rate of fatalities is 1.7 per hundred million miles for motor vehicles, and 0.7 per hundred million miles for aircraft. So you are correct that the average risk is higher in a car. However, the variability of the risk is quite different in the two situations.

Aircraft are operated with near-universal compliance to a carefully regulated set of procedures, training and safety requirements. From an individual passenger's point of view, the exposure to risk is likely to be quite close to average, every time they fly. There is very little a passenger can do to improve (or detract from) their individual safety.

Motor vehicles, on the other hand, are operated under extremely variable conditions. Drivers are exposed to widely divergent training and experience, and exhibit a far greater range of both safety-enhancing and safety-detrimental behaviors. Road, weather and visibility conditions vary wildly. The vehicles themselves offer radically different safety records, both as manufactured and as actually operated by drivers who often give little thought to proper maintenance.

Obviously, even the most safety-conscious person can get hit by a drunk driver. But you have a great deal of control over your own behavior, equipment, choice of route, etc., and the choices you make have a great impact on your safety.

So the question is: If detailed statistics were available, what would the fatality rate be for drivers who are sober, alert, and drug-free; observing all traffic laws, good safety practices, and the speed limit; driving only in the daytime and under good visibility conditions; in a car with well-engineered crumple zones and front and side airbags; wearing their seat belt; and making a long trip via well-maintained, non-urban Interstate highways?

I submit to you that under these conditions, a motor vehicle is probably much safer than an airplane; and a safety-obsessed individual could easily incorporate all of these practices into a reasonable transportation lifestyle.


[ Parent ]

Airplane fatalities ususally occur in clusters... (none / 0) (#96)
by PhoTwenny on Wed Mar 30, 2005 at 12:09:32 AM EST

I don't have any statistics to back up my claim, but if a plane crash results in fatalities, LOTS of people die.  In car crashes, its much more likely that only a small number of people could die.  So for every 100 million miles in a car, the 1.7 average is probably dominated by single and double fatalities.

If a plane crashes, say TWA800 with the oxygen tanks, or those planes that crashed in September a few years back, or any other memorable plane crashes, EVERYONE on the plane dies.  That's on the order of hundreds of people.  Probably only a tiny fraction of plane crashes result in only single or double fatalities.  To achieve an average of 0.7 per 100 million miles, any one of those fatal crashes represents tens of billions of miles at least.

(As an aside, I suppose I'm not really considering personal aircraft, or cargo planes.  Those aren't the kind of planes we're talking about, since the TSA disincentives to flying don't apply to those aircraft.  I don't know whether or not those are included those in the 0.7/100million figure.)

I guess what I'm saying is that "better" (by whatever measure you choose) drivers should have a lower chance of dying in a car crash than reckless drivers.  But the overall chances of dying in a plane crash are orders of magnitude less likely, even though its out of your hands.

On the other hand, your chances of walking away from a car crash are probably far greater than walking away from a plane crash.

Statistics is hard.  Let's bake cookies.

[ Parent ]

Yes, that's so (none / 1) (#115)
by mcgrew on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 08:15:57 PM EST

But it's not fear of crashing that's keeping people away, it's fear of hassle.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Airport security is a joke (3.00 / 2) (#91)
by aturner on Tue Mar 29, 2005 at 12:06:23 PM EST

So Saturday morning (March 27th), I few from San Jose, CA to Phoenix, Az.  I'm not a morning person.  I'm even less of a person without my coffee.  Without my morning coffee, I tend to be rather forgetful.  So imagine my surprise when I had realized in the back of my mind  that I had just walked through the metal detector carrying on my person:
  1. A stainless steal watch on my wrist
  2. A gold ring on my finger
  3. Metal framed sun glasses hanging from my shirt
  4. My key ring with 10 keys on it in my pocket
  5. A belt with a metal buckle
  6. My wallet which has a small steel metal bar (approx 3" x 1/2") in the other pocket
  7. The pocket knife w/ 2" blade I always keep in the small coin pocket in my jeans.
Why the metal detector didn't go off like a firealarm I can't explain, but I wasn't about to mention it to the nice TSA lady who carefully checked my boarding pass and told me to have a nice day.

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. -- Benjamin Franklin

Its all random... (none / 1) (#97)
by PhoTwenny on Wed Mar 30, 2005 at 12:45:17 AM EST

As best as I can tell, its all random.  I've had the detector go off where the only metal on my body was the rivets in my jeans.

Sometimes my belt buckle sets it off.  Sometimes it doesn't.  One time it set off the detectors, so they had to scan me with the wand.  The buckle has 2 prongs through the belt, one shaped like an allen wrench, one like a phillips screwdriver.  Uh oh!

"Is that a tool?" he asked.

"No, its a belt buckle."

In fact it is a tool.  The metal loop that retains the belt flap (or whatever) has 3 different sized wrenches on it.  The belt buckle is a skateboard tool, but I wasn't about to just hand it over to this tool because of some arbitrary, pointless rule.

"Well, it looks like a tool."

"Yeah, but it isn't. It's just made to look like one."

"Well, it looks like a tool.  I'll let you through  this time, but other agents might not be so nice in the future."


"...because you're not allowed to have tools on board the plane."

"OK. I get it."

"Yeah, ok.  I'm letting it by this time, but you might not be so lucky next time."

"OK, but this is the most difficult time I've had yet."

"Well, I'm a nice guy, so I'll let it by."


"But just be careful, because you might not be so lucky..."

"OK.  Got it.  Thanks."

He finally let me by.  I guess he was looking for the "thanks".  Like I should show some appreciation for him allowing me to bring "contraband" on an airplane.  Right.

Either take the belt, or let me through.  Don't bend the rules, or even pretend to do so.  That only makes me feel even less secure, wondering what else he's let people take onboard.

[ Parent ]

The Joke May Be Rigged (none / 0) (#117)
by kenmce on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 10:55:19 PM EST

Based on my experience down at the local courthouse I think the guys who run the scanner may be able to set it off or prevent it from going off as they chose.  Your screener may have simply neglected to change the setting.

[ Parent ]
Try flying with firearms (3.00 / 4) (#92)
by benenglish on Tue Mar 29, 2005 at 02:01:44 PM EST

I occasionally fly with firearms but the potential hassles have grown to the point that it's no longer worth the trouble.  Yes, when I go to Australia (later this year) or Brazil (next year) for big competitions, I'll have no choice.  But as long as I'm competing in the continental U.S., I now drive.  


Because the pissing contest between the FAA and the TSA winds up making life miserable.  The TSA doesn't want luggage locked, but the FAA insists that anything with a gun in it must be locked.  Since the FAA has the legal upper hand, my bags are locked.  But since the TSA is actually doing the grunt work, I have to be available to unlock those bags at a moments notice.  In practice, I show up four hours early and beg the ticketing agent to get the TSA to do my bag inspection now, as a special case, so I can lock the bags afterwards.  Usually that works, leaving me to while away four hours of boredom waiting for my flight.

Unfortunately, since I like to fly early in the day, it's often the case that there's no TSA inspector available to look at my bags so I have no choice except to lock them and hope for the best.  Generally, they'll page me at my gate (where I'm stuck for hours and if I dare to step away to the restroom for 5 minutes, you just know that's when they'll page me) and I'll go unlock my bags.  If I don't, they break in.  USD$400 gun cases can be repaired after they get through forcing their way in, but it's highly unlikely I can get them repaired while I'm out of town so I always hope if the cases are damaged, it's on the return leg.

The worst thing is that in some places the counter personnel are so ignorant they look at you like there's something wrong with you just because your lifelong dream is to set a world record with a firearm.  There was a time when the chamber check that is required for flying with guns was done at the counter, complete with admiring glances from fellow passengers and an occasional counterperson who'd comment "Nice piece!"  Nowadays, things have changed for the worse.  Sometimes they want you to do the chamber check out of sight, so they drag you away behind a screen somewhere as if they actually thought that anyone would get upset at the sight of a firearm being handled at the ticket counter.

And there's more.  It's gotten so bad that, I kid you not, I actually experienced a Continental employee who refused to accept my concealed carry permit as an official ID.  Can you imagine that?  Over the years, most counter agents (at least in my home state of Texas) have immediately understood that a concealed carry permit means that I've already undergone an extensive background check, have earned a government seal of approval, and am the sort of passenger who is the absolute LEAST likely to be a problem.  Yet recently I've run into some counter agents who actually prefer a drivers license (that any bozo can get) over my CCH license (that required me to jump through major hoops)!  Idiots!

I'm shooting matches in Arizona, Michigan and Ohio this year.  I'm driving to each of them.  Ya gotta know that I'm REALLY fed up with flying if I'm willing to do that.

Did you pack your own rectum? (none / 0) (#95)
by nlscb on Tue Mar 29, 2005 at 09:48:41 PM EST

"Have you been in control of your rectum since you packed it?"

Eventually a terrorist will pack some plastic heat (it is possible to make lethal guns from plastic) where the sun don't shine. When that happens, that will be the end of commercial flight.

the lined is borrowed from a stand up comic - can't remember who - but I thought up the same idea a long time ago - too lazy to look up my comment

Comment Search has returned - Like a beaten wife, I am pathetically grateful. - mr strange

Aye yi yi... (none / 0) (#99)
by bdjohns1 on Wed Mar 30, 2005 at 01:24:06 AM EST

Where to start with this article? I live in Chicago and my family's in St. Louis, so I drive the author's section of I-55 with some regularity (over the past 8 years, I'd say an average of 5-6x an year). 1 in 20 with Illinois plates is quite frankly ridiculous, unless you're counting all of the plates on semis. I'd guesstimate that maybe 75% of the vehicles have Illinois plates, and at least 15% have plates from states bordering IL. That's pretty typical in most states I've driven in, except for feeder highways to tourist spots (ie national parks, etc.) I'm a pretty frequent flyer as well. Maybe not 95th percentile, but I'm a Premier Exec on United, which means I'm doing at least 50K miles or 60 segments a year. So, I'm marginally qualified to comment on the time it takes to fly. I don't know off the top of my head any major US airports that tell you to be there 2 hours before departure...most say 60 minutes, 90 if you're checking baggage. For international travel, 2 hours is recommended, but that's just because check-in usually always takes longer. Let's take a look at one of my typical trips. Two weeks ago I flew from Chicago to Boise. Sometime during the day, I do my check-in over the web and get my boarding pass - takes 2 minutes, and I can even pick that nice exit row seat with the extra legroom. I leave my house about 90 minutes before departure of the flight. Takes 20 minutes to get to O'Hare (and even in rush hour, it only takes 30). 10 minutes to find a parking space and walk into the terminal (on a bad day). Security usually takes 5-10 minutes during off-peak hours. I haven't set off a metal detector in 2 years at O'Hare - dress shoes with no metal, keys and cellphone in my jacket, belt in my bag. Boarding starts 30 minutes before departure for most flights, so really I'm only waiting 20-30 minutes, and that includes walking to the gate. Smoking? Like everyone else said, I've got zero sympathy, and I work for a subsidiary of a friggin tobacco company, even. 4 hours to St. Louis? Good luck. My family lives on the east side of the river, and with zero traffic and 1 5-minute pit stop, it's about 4:15, and that's with the cruise set at 75 mph once you're south of Joliet. (and it's 65mph speed limit), so factor in the risk of a $95 speeding ticket. Then, figure in the actual costs of using your car for that, which are going to probably be in excess of $0.35/mile unless you drive a 10-year old Honda that's been well maintained. You're at >$200 round-trip driving already. I agree, there are some exceptionally dumb things going on in the field of aviation security, like the shoe carnival at some airports, or the fact that most cargo isn't screened at all before getting loaded into the hold of a plane. You're barking up the wrong tree.

My two favorite 'post 9/11' incidents... (3.00 / 2) (#101)
by WolfWings on Wed Mar 30, 2005 at 02:26:42 PM EST

...and one pre-9/11 incident to start with.

I was flying out from Ontario Airport to LAX. Walked through security, boarded the plane, got off at the far end, no problems.

With a Leatherman multi-tool in a branded holster buckled to my right shoulder, and a Buck knife (also in branded holster) buckled to my left shoulder.

Said jacket went through the X-Ray machine, so I know they saw it outbound, and was worn for the duration of the trip and I had an aisle seat. Hell, I took out the multi-tool to clean my nails at one point, and used the knife with a meal I'd brown-bagged onto the flight. (JetBlue, a god-send for travel back in the days they were just getting started.)

My return flight was scheduled for 9/11 at 11-something-am out of JFK, and obviously, I missed that flight and had to snail-mail my shoulder-harnessed jacket back about a week later.

But that rolls into my post-9/11 stories. My first one... flying out of Kansas City's regional airport. That place has the best layout. The 'secure areas' are little bubbles attached to each individual gate. You get screened as they take your boarding pass once, as you board the flight, run through a phalanx of checks and on the plane, with the only other check being a bomb-sniffing dog at the vehicular parking garage as you come onto the property.

My second one is also the secret ninja stealth method of getting by security in a hurry at LAX. I showed up barefoot (not unusual for me, I barefoot everywhere I can, driving and elsewise) wearing blue-jean cut-offs and a t-shirt, with a mesh bag holding two books to read on the flight.

I actually got pulled aside at every single step except the 'please step into this room, Sir' one. And I had no less than three people debate with me regarding my lack of footwear. The first one was the usual, "Please take off your footwear, Sir," as I stepped through the metal detector without the 'pause, jerk, pause, jerk, set' dance that everyone else was going through. The second was, "Please set your footwear on the tray, blah, blah," routine from Mr. Wand-o-matic. The third was a TSA agent trying to claim I couldn't legally fly without wearing shoes when he was handed a tray to wave some secondary scanning pixie-dust over while Mr. Wand waves his scanner-tool of choice over my arms and crotch.

Gods, I miss the pre-9/11 days.
"How good an actor do you have to be to play God?" - Bob Dylan

Anyone's guess (none / 1) (#111)
by bithead on Fri Apr 01, 2005 at 10:24:48 PM EST

I flew about 6 months after 9/11. I carried a box cutter onto the plane, actually by accident. I realized after departing to my destination it was in my jacket pocket. No questions asked.

That's about it for homeland 'security'. Its anyone's guess where all the 'money' targeted for increasing security actually went. It sure didn't improve security. Maybe things have changed

Have to aggree with Ben F. - the ones eager to give up liberty for safety are the real problem. Terrorists we can handle; its the George "DWI" Bushes we have to watch out for.

firearms (none / 0) (#113)
by CAIMLAS on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 09:57:01 AM EST

All I know is, I'd feel much more comfortable on flights if I were allowed to conceal carry (a firearm) wherever I go.

I live in South Dakota, so I can do it here. But I don't really feel the need to despite the fact that I'm licensed to do so, so I generally don't. However, when I fly to NY or through Chicago, or even get on a plane, I'd feel much, much more comfortable with someone to protect myself with.

It'd certainly be a pretty good deterent for terrorists. Which would you rather hijack - a plane with unarmed civilians, or a plane with the likelyhood of armed citizens?

Someone mentioned a "plastic gun" in the rectum. Sure, it's possible, but you'd only be able to fire several rounds before the barrel was destroyed. Plastics - even hard ones - aren't that strong. Then there'd be the issue of non-metalic cartridges and bullets (which could both cause problems) and the issue of gun powder (which will be detected by their bomb detecting machines). Not likely going to happen.

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.

my experience (none / 1) (#114)
by CAIMLAS on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 10:00:41 AM EST

I've flown several times (3-5?) since 9/11. The first two times I was strip-searched and had my bags completely unpacked for me, almost resulting in me missing my flight due to the time it took to re-dress and re-pack my bag (I only do carry on, and I pack a very tight bag). I'm a 6'2" 165lb male. I have blue eyes and dirty-blonde hair with a fair complexion. On both of those flights, I was wearing typical college student clothing - sandals, tshirt, and ratty jeans. Meanwhile there were people getting on the plane that were black and mexican without so much as a second look. Not to profile, but, um, profiling makes fucking sense. Don't profile the white guy, as he's not been a problem statistically, dumbasses.

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.

The World Does not Revolve Around You (none / 0) (#120)
by Frank Anderson on Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 05:17:12 AM EST

Our nation was attacked by terrorists, and all you can see is how the resulting security precautions inconvenience you. Correction - how they would inconvenience you if you flew, which you don't.
You seem quite concerned about being strip searched; you mention it three times. More than anything, this sums up your attitude of elevating your ego above practical considerations. We (who fly) want planes to be safe. If this means the occasional search, get over it. It certainly doesn't stigmatize you as a criminal - you are merely one of many travelers. Do you shower with your clothes on? Why the fear of taking off your clothes in response to a lawful request?
To be frank, your evident suspicion of authority and your desire to conceal and mask yourself both physically and mentally (worries about pheromone-sniffing machines) seem to indicate an alienated, possibly even dangerous mindset. Which gives me an idea.
People who deliberately drive long distances to avoid air travel should be subject to some scrutiny. I can think of several ways this behavior pattern can be detected. Then the appropriate agency, such as a highway patrol, can stop the traveler, discuss his schedule and reason for traveling, and request a consent search of his vehicle and person. (If consent is not forthcoming, obviously more legislative action would be needed.)
This policy would have several healthy effects. It would show terrorists that they cannot safely smuggle explosives or weapons between cities in cars. It would give the authorities a chance to talk to disaffected individuals such as the author of this article before they run completely off the rails. By reminding such hazy characters that they are visible and accountable, we can hope to discourage them from escalating anti-social behavior.

Homeland "Security" | 120 comments (87 topical, 33 editorial, 0 hidden)
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