Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Towards Better Security Theater

The latest recruit to the Terror side of the War on Terror has set fire to his own crotch, provoking yet another spasm of security theater. Something must be done and seen to be done, so something will be done, even if most of the steps taken are hasty, ill conceived measures that inconvenience millions of travelers for a negligible improvement in actual security. At least the most recent set of heightened security measures seem to expire December 30th, 2009. That’s something.

Even small costs add up when multiplied by hundreds of millions of passenger flights. A few seconds to remove shoes for each of 500 million passenger departures totals up to approximately a human lifetime, every year.

If we are going do things because we feel we need to do something, let’s at least do no harm.

Let’s divert some resources to security teams that roam up and down the waiting lines of passengers instead of creating bottlenecks. Uniformed men with vacuum nozzle sniffing devices. Bomb sniffing dogs. Explosive detection ferrets. Uniformed men in high tech goggles staring balefully at suspicious crotches. Seeker teams with detector owls. Orangutans wearing rubber gloves and vests with “Rectum Primate” in large block letters on the back.

Did I mention the Metal Detector Wand Mimes?

It could be like Disneyworld. I’ve always admired the way they tried to provide distractions while you waited in line.

Every now and then the security teams would single out someone from the line and drag them away, screaming and struggling. “What’s that Kiki? A detonator cap? Good Kiki” “So, Snowy, something doesn’t sound right? Please come with us, sir.”

To avoid any inconvenience to legitimate travelers, professional actors would salt the line to be dragged away as a useful example. Or stunt men. Nothing says deterrent like roving teams with equipment prominently labeled “Microwave Detonator Igniter” that from time to time power up the Ominous Hum™ and point the device at the prepared stunt man, whose crotch promptly bursts into flame. Heroic security teams could promptly converge with fire extinguishers and iodine. Lots of iodine.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Living in the Future: The Lake District Isn't Just About North West England Anymore

Sunlight on Kraken Mare

We peered beneath a methane cloud
And took the pictures one by one,
When all at once we saw a crowd
Of waves that caught the distant Sun;
A methane lake that would not freeze
Stirred by the cool Titanian breeze.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Medievalism and Modern Life

Gawain, the Green Knight and Iran Today

Obama, St. Augustine and the Doctrine of Just War. Sometimes pacifism isn't enough. The Peace Prize went to Teddy Roosevelt once, so there's a precedent.

Silent Monks Perform the Messiah