Convention Poll

 Election, Politics  Comments Off on Convention Poll
Sep 092012
 

The professional pundits had more than enough analysis of how the respective 2012 political conventions went.  Obviously we hosted the Republicans here in Tampa, and it would have been fine with me if they’d stayed home. I will write more about all that later this week. It was a disaster for downtown Tampa businesses, and the security was simply over the top.

But for now, we’re posting a quick poll for you.

Who had the best 2012 convention?

  • They both sucked (25%, 1 Votes)
  • Democrats (75%, 3 Votes)
  • Republicans (0%, 0 Votes)
  • They were both excellent (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 4

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How to Shorten Your TSA Rub Down

 Constitution, Crime, Featured, Politics, Society, Technology  Comments Off on How to Shorten Your TSA Rub Down
Nov 202010
 

The man making money off machines which are supposed to keep you safe.

Finally people seem to be waking to the craziness of the TSA’s “security theater” at the airport gates, just not before Micheal Chertoff, former head of Homeland Security, got to sock away a nice retirement package from selling us taxpayers the bogus x-ray machines.

As a frequent flyer, I’ve given some thought to this whole security issue. Let’s take a brief walk back into time. Airplane hijackings used to be almost common. It seemed easy to sneak a gun/s or explosive device on a plane. Passengers knew their best way to survive was to sit quietly, endure a day or two in Cuba and try to avoid attracting attention to oneself. We implemented some common sense security to detect and eliminate the ability to easily get guns and bombs on-board planes in the passenger compartment. Then 9/11 happened, and things on the plane itself changed a lot. Passengers were no longer going to sit quietly, and cockpit doors were finally hardened and locked for the flight. This will pretty much end another 9/11 style attack.

But notice I didn’t bring up anything about the changes that have resulted at the security gates as having an impact on eliminating 9/11 style attacks. Frankly, that really changes nothing. We had the shoe-bomber, so now we take off our shoes, then we had the claim of the chemistry set bomb, so now we have the ridiculous 3 oz and a baggy requirement. I would note here that most experts say it would be near impossible to get the right chemicals in the right quantities mixed in the right way to take down a plane while on the plane. Yet still we suffer on. Then along came the underwear bomber, so now we’re basically asked to strip for our porno scan x-ray.

Now how many of you believe the terrorists are going to try another shoe bomb or underwear bomb on a plane? Of course not, they’ll find something else. Most recently they did the toner cartridge trick, and made some progress. But here’s what interests me, it was right after that TSA implemented stricter rub-down procedures, but they still are checking only about 20% of cargo. No changes there. What kind of clown car do they ride to work in? They just keep reacting, always a day behind the newest threat, and put no emphasis on where the real threats arise, or how to get ahead.

Oh, but don’t forget, the TSA gate agents recently got “real badges.” The claim for this expenditure of our tax dollars was so they would enjoy more respect. Well, I’ve got a clue for the TSA managers. The best way to get to respect is to extend respect. I was on my way to D.C. Monday morning and had just stepped up to the security person in the main terminal to show my ID and boarding pass. Some plain clothes TSA Agent literally elbowed himself in front of me flashing his credentials to the security person. We rode out to the concourse on the same tram, and when he got there, all he did was stand around looking. So there was clearly no emergency. Think I have a lot of respect for him, and it unfortunately further lowers my respect for the other agents of that group. So really guys, get a clue. Try extending a little courtesy and respect, and you might get some back. Having a tin badge ain’t gonna cut it.

All that said, what’s this about my new found way to get more quickly through a TSA Rub Down? Coming into the security gates at Dulles, I see Chertoff has lots of his x-ray machines sold to them, so everyone was expected to go through them. I said, “No, sorry, not going through an x-ray machine. You can do the pat down.” So of course the guy gets on his radio and says he has a “non-compliant.” They send an older big guy over, the supervisor, obviously for some kind of intimidation factor. I waited until he got there and explained I was not “non-compliant,” that it was my understanding everyone had a choice of getting an x-ray by an uncertified x-ray technician, or get a pat down, and that I had clearly said they could do a pat down.

Well, the supervisor leads me over to pickup my stuff, and has some younger guy come out to do the rub down. The supervisor stands by scowling with arms crossed, again clearly going for the intimidation factor. The agent goes through  his little spiel about how he’s going to be touching me, and then starts the rub-down, at each point telling me what he’s going to touch next. Finally, very matter of factly, I just said, “Dude, just do whatever it is you have to do. As a gay man, I have no problem having another guy feel me up.”

The pale creamy complexion of the old guy went from bright red to nearly purple in seconds. I thought he was going to have a stroke right there, and amazingly, I got a very quick pat down, and was sent on my way.

Bomb or Tape Dispenser?

 Crime, Culture, Society  Comments Off on Bomb or Tape Dispenser?
Mar 072007
 

Police these days are seeing bombs everywhere, even though there really aren’t any actual bombs. It’s clear that they need help.

The January 31 scare in which Boston and Massachusetts government officials terrorized the city by treating harmless light boards, being used in an advertising campaign for a cartoon show, as bombs, is unfortunately not an isolated incident.

In Santa Fe, N.M., on Wednesday, an apparent teenage prank in which someone left CD players under the pews at a Catholic church, which were playing streams of profanity during Mass, led to the police bringing out the bomb squad and blowing up two of the three CD players – after removing them from the church themselves. They knew, of course, that the CD players weren’t bombs, but blew them up and scared people anyway.

Bureuacrats in Northern Ireland scared people and disrupted traffic for several hours after a tape dispenser was found outside a police station. Yes, the sort of tape you attach to things to hold them together. Again, they inexplicably blew up the tape dispenser. A police official said it might have been a booby trap.

And a surveillance operation Dutch police were conducting went awry when the person under surveillance discovered the police transmitter attached to his car and called the police thinking it was a bomb. The bomb squad came out, but fortunately did not blow up the person’s car. He was then told that the device was a police transmitter being used to monitor him.

Security expert Bruce Schneier explains why police and government officials do this. It’s called “cover your ass security.”

“Much of our country’s counterterrorism security spending is not designed to protect us from the terrorists, but instead to protect our public officials from criticism when another attack occurs,” Schneier writes. “All the money is in fear-mongering, re-election strategies, and pork-barrel politics. And, like so many things, security follows the money.”

And that’s why you’ll never get security from the government.

In the meantime, I suggest that all government officials and police officers spend some time at Bomb or Not.