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Airport Security - a nonsense

Now all the airports are on full alert to sharp pointy things it becomes very hard to take nail clippers or a pair of tweezers on a plane.

This all appears a very sensible way of trying to stop people smuggling something which could be used as a weapon onto an airliner.

Guess what? 3 weeks ago I flew to Brisbane on holiday with Emirates. Get on the plane, sit down, take off and they serve dinner... with nothing less than metal bloody knives!

After I go home tomorrow I may enquire into this! It's an absolute nonsense. And the fact that you get scanned before you go into the duty free side of the airport where you could pick up countless bits and pieces of potential weaponry.

gwyn
Thursday, November 13, 2003

The facetious answer is that Emirates and anti-US terrorism are based in the same section of the world. Perhaps that makes it safer to fly Emirates than any other airline ;)

Disclaimer: I fly Emirates between Australia and Singapore at least six times each year. Since the demise of a major regional carrier I no longer care about alliances, miles, etc., and fly based on price and service. Emirates offers service almost as good as MH and SQ, and prices better than either.

But you are completely correct, security screening exists mainly to further the interests and profits of the security industry, not for the protection of passengers.

HeWhoMustBeConfused
Thursday, November 13, 2003

I try not to think about it. Security seems incredibly lax, to me, especially when you consider that airports are still hemming and hawing over whether they can "afford" the fancy new technology for finding suitcase bombs. It doesn't seem like bomb search technology would be "out of budget" in today's world.

See? Just try not to think about it.

As for people bringing sharp things on the plane, I'm really not worried about it - if anyone tried to hijack a plane today, they would be beaten to death with their own shoes.

Dan J
Thursday, November 13, 2003

Dudes,

The thing about the steak knives they give you with your meal is that *everybody* has one. See how it works? As long as *everybody* is armed, the system works. This is the idea behind the 2nd amendment, which also works. Arm everyone with pointy sticks and it keeps the crime down. Also explains why Switzerland is the safest place in the world to live.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, November 13, 2003

Dennis,

If everyone is armed with steak knives, why prohibit nail clippers? That doesn't make any sense. The point is not that the knives should be forbidden, it is that forbidding everything else is dumb.

Mike Swieton
Thursday, November 13, 2003

Because Switzerland is one of the richest nations in the world (sweet, sweet numbered bank accounts), and a pretty invasive police.

Better than food fight: on-board steak knife fight :-)

Frederic Faure
Thursday, November 13, 2003

Those knives are dull and pretty safe. You'll have to be a rhino to shove it into someone and fatally injure him. You might as well order a bottle of champagne and smash it into pieces and use that.

æøå
Thursday, November 13, 2003


Surely engineers/programmers/technical people will realise that it is essentially impossible to stop acts of terror/violence if the person commiting them is not concerned with the consequences that will be visited upon them.

We have hype over airport security for the same reason we see the media and polititians show exagerated deference to the leaders of reserve banks.

It makes the public feel safe, think that somone is actually in control. 

No one is really in control.

The sad result of society's pushing the line that somone is always in control is the natural extension that somone is always to blame.

braid_ged
Thursday, November 13, 2003

Frederic,

What I was alluding to was that most Swiss citizens have machine guns in their homes as part of their mandatory military service. Officers get pistols. People are required to keep up to date on their skills. Would you want to try and take over Switzerland, knowing this? Of course not. When everyone is armed, everyone is safe. When the citizenry is unarmed, then criminals (to be read 'government fiends and tyrants') run free.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, November 13, 2003

"When the citizenry is unarmed, then criminals (to be read 'government fiends and tyrants') run free."

Australia (my home country) is largely unarmed. Very few people are armed. We hardly have criminals running riot.

Andrew Lighten
Thursday, November 13, 2003

Australia? That reminds me when I lived in a rather unpleasant area of a large city, yet contrary to all of the claims I never had any crimes committed against me, or heard of any against my neighbours. Criminals don't piss in their own backyard.

So how was Australia founded again? :-)

" "
Thursday, November 13, 2003

My workmates from the outer suburbs of Sydney were amazed I wasn't mugged living in the inner suburbs of Sydney.

Strangely they'd all been mugged in the outer suburbs yet consistently believed the inner suburbs were more dangerous.

Walter Rumsby
Thursday, November 13, 2003

Australia? Say isn't that the place where they took away the people's right to bear arms a few years ago and since then everything has gone downhill?

anon
Friday, November 14, 2003

People look strange with bear arms anyway...


Friday, November 14, 2003

>Guess what? 3 weeks ago I flew to Brisbane on holiday >with Emirates. Get on the plane, sit down, take off and >they serve dinner... with nothing less than metal bloody >knives!

Bah, I can beat that... :-)

I was coming back from Fiji the year after 9/11... duly surrendering our tweezers, nail scissors and nail files, we made our way through customs to the duty free area, only to find ceremonial (but still very sharp!) Fijian spears on sale in the duty free shops.

Still, I bet being relieved of their boxcutters would demoralise the would-be terrorist so greatly they'd never consider purchasing a 5 ft long spear to hijack the plane with instead...

Christo

Christo Fogelberg
Friday, November 14, 2003

Ah, that explains why Colombia is so safe.

Guns are illegal; everyone has guns anyways; and the place is a libertarian paradise because of it.  Crime?  Violence?  That's a thing of the NORTH America only ...

Meanwhile, just across the border is that communist gulag called Canada.  Criminals ride roughshod over the country, content that households with handguns are relatively rare.  Because thieves, you know, are a planning sort; they think ahead, they think about things like this.

Alyosha`
Friday, November 14, 2003

The problem in Columbia is that guns are illegal. Thus, only criminals have guns. If guns were legal, then law abiding citizens could carry them as well and defend themselves against the attacks by criminals. Columbia is a perfect example of why the right to bear arms must not even be infringed, not even a tiny bit!

Dennis Atkins
Friday, November 14, 2003

If Columbia wants to solve all their crime problems, they should require all citizens to go through a 2 yr military training and then give all of them a machine gun to keep at home.

Dennis Atkins
Friday, November 14, 2003

Surely if everyone has guns, the bad guys get bigger guns, neh?

Personal nuclear weapons is obviously the way to go, then no one would mess with anyone else.

Yep, that 'd work.

Simon Lucy
Friday, November 14, 2003

It wouldn't work, because I'd get a bigger nuke than you, simon.

A better idea would be to make everyone join the army and do military training all day every day until the day they die. Then there would no criminals, becase everyone would be busy doing military training! See, it's so simple!

bow lock
Friday, November 14, 2003

Invade Switzerland? And go up against their feared bicycle corps? No fear. Besides, they have my money in their banks.


Friday, November 14, 2003

"You might as well order a bottle of champagne and smash it into pieces and use that. "

Indeed. There's no point taking away nail-scissors when everyone is allowed to carry in class bottles, which, after breaking, are definitely lethal veapons. Or you can pour the liquid on the floor and set it on fire. In an aeroplane, would that be any less effective than a bomb?

Tero
Friday, November 14, 2003

Is luggage really X-rayed?

I ask because while going through Chicago on my way to and from a Scrabble tournament, my electric shaver and headphones, both in carry-on, were investigated (i.e. the security guy didn't know what they were on the X-ray and had to hand-inspect) but my http://www.adjudicator3000.com/adjudicator3000.html in checked baggage, was never questioned.

David Jones
Friday, November 14, 2003

David. You brought your shaver in your carryon?

Checked baggage is screened, and that... thing probably raised a few eyebrows, they would probably open up the bag and have a look. Was there a TSA sticker on the lock/zipper/whatever, on arrival?

Can never be too sure, though:

Upon re-screening of some transfer baggage here (somewhere in Europe) a few days ago, the security personell discovered a bag full of propane gas bottles, which ofcourse is illegal in any airborne baggage. - This flight arrived from New York. [How I know: I'm a baggage handler by day, programmer and lapdancer by night! :]

æøå
Friday, November 14, 2003

Dennis: perhaps you're not aware of the autodefensas (right-wing paramilitaries) which were initally established because the government was useless in stopping the FARC and ELN guerrillas.  Now they've become a problem in their own right, being indiscriminate in how they combat the Marxist guerrillas, and secondly turning to the drug trade themselves to finance their expensive war against the original drug lords.  It's turned into a three-way civil war - the FARC vs the paramilitaries vs the government.

In Colombia, the guns are illegal, but everyone has them anyways - "law-abiding" or not.

Alyosha`
Friday, November 14, 2003

It's true that vigilantism took over because the government wos completely inept at dealing with the terrorists/guerillas/revolutionaries. The common people were sick and tired of it and took matters into their own hands.

The situation is bad but it is better to be a vigilante in a lawless land with a helpless government than to be a victim in a lawless land with a helpless government.

Dennis Atkins
Friday, November 14, 2003

Oh, and most vigilantes are not drug producers. The drug producers are a third group that is taking advantage of the anarchy to their own personal advantage.

Dennis Atkins
Friday, November 14, 2003

Correct - drug producers do not engage in the fighting, but the FARC or autodefensas exact a "protection tax" of sorts  on them which allows them to continue their paramilitary operations.

Anyways, I think I've sufficiently laid to rest your earlier comment that an armed society is a safe society.  You've got Canada on one hand, a mostly unarmed yet safe country; and Colombia on the other, a mostly armed and totally unsafe country.  (Why is it that gun control advocates pretend like Switzerland is the only country in the world?)

What are we to derive from this?  Violence is not a product of gun ownership (or lack thereof), but has more to do with the socioeconomic conditions -- in Colombia, there's a lot more people that have to steal to eat, but in Canada, it's just not worth it - might as well have a real job.

Alyosha`
Friday, November 14, 2003

I'm tempted to agree but then again there's China where people are poor and I am told there is little violence.

One difference between the Swiss and the Columbians is the Swiss ownership is legal and people are well trained, whereas the Columbians own guns illegally and do not receive special training.

Dennis Atkins
Friday, November 14, 2003

*cough* *cough* *China has extremely strict gun control* *cough*

China is a bit of an anomaly, but their low crime rate (well, relatively speaking) might have something to do with culture factors and with their very draconian enforcement policies.

Alyosha`
Friday, November 14, 2003

For the sake of argument, do we really know what China's crime rate is? Is their government trustworthy with those figures?

Also, what are the drug laws like in
Switzerland?

Bill
Friday, November 14, 2003

Sure, of course -- so culture perhaps has more to do with it than poverty.

I totally don't by the poverty angle -- the poor folks I know are generall the most honest and peaceful people I know.

When somebody goes on a crazed shooting spree, strangles their kids, or cannibalizes their parents it's always middle to upper class folks. Never poor ones.

Dennis Atkins
Friday, November 14, 2003

Ah, but how many poor people do you know?

Moreover, do you go out of your way to associate with honest people or dishonest people?

Also, where do you hear about most crimes?  The papers, right?  Which crimes get the most column inches in the newspapers?  A sensational patricide in the ritzy part of town, or a botched robbery down in the barrio?

What you're doing is the philosophical equivalent of dredging a lake with a two-inch net and then concluding, scientifically, that all fish are greater than two inches in length.

The only way to really get a good feel for violent crime rates is to look at objective statistics - or, failing that - asking the locals what part of town they wouldn't want to be stuck in late at night.

Alyosha`
Friday, November 14, 2003

Most people I know are poor compared to national medians. many people I know are destitute, this is perhaps because I tend to spend a lot of my free time working with the homeless and near-homeless in various contexts.  People I work with professionally are a different matter - middle class mostly. Almost all the people I know outside the country as friends and relatives count as poor compared to the US, and I know quite a bit in various areas including places that are too poor to appear on any map which don't have clean drinking water or electricity.

I go out of my way to associate with honest people and avoid dishonest people or limit my interactions with them to an arms length.

I don't read the newspapers actually, nor do I watch the TV news as I consider them propaganda. I have lived in some pretty high crime areas and have even known mass-murderers as well as saints, so I think I am well rounded in that regard.

I have no problem walking alone in any area late at night because I know how to take care of myself. I have not had to use deadly force to defend myself anywhere in the US, fortunately.

I wonder of your experiences in these matters and why you thik it so relevant?

Dennis Atkins
Friday, November 14, 2003

The reason I think it is relevant is that you brought up your personal experience with poor people and crime as a data point - so I thought it appropriate to ask more about your background.  As for myself - most folks I know are educated, middle-class, and law-abiding (but there are some exceptions).

The fact that most poor people you know are honest really doesn't prove much.  Criminals are rare, in the ghetto or out of it.  What you should be doing is taking a look at the criminals you know and asking yourself, "well, in general, are these folks rich or poor"?

I find it hard to believe that you don't read the papers or listen to TV -- if so, where did you hear about all these affluent murderers from, that you mentioned?  Shooting sprees, patricides, and the like are usually: (a) rare and (b) not economically motivated.  And they also get the most press because of these two reasons.  Most muggings, burglaries, and other violent crimes don't make the news at all.  You never hear who done it. 

If you want to find out who's in most trouble with the law, hang about the county courthouse for a day or two.

I've never had a problem with walking in the bad section of town, primarily because I don't live in those places, rarely have a reason to go there, and am cautious when I do go.  Still, you never know.  A friend of mine was murdered not so long ago in a relatively safe area of town; police think the motive was robbery.  Judging from the evidence, he most likely never even saw the guy that shot him.

Alyosha`
Friday, November 14, 2003

Aloysha,

You're saying that crime is caused by poverty! I dispute entirely this suggestion that there is a tendency for poor people to be criminals, whereas rich people are not. I say that the tendency is more towards the opposite -- although criminals come in all shapes and sizes, poor people have only their honor and integrity to fall back upon. The rich have a tendency to fancy themselves above the law.

Dennis Atkins
Friday, November 14, 2003

And yes, I have watched TV news in the past - I don't do so currently. My news source is mainly monitoring the raw feed from the syndicated news wire lines, but I also keep up with things through google news and others. I guess I do watch some international news such as the BBC World service - I was mainly thinking of the 11 o'clock 'crime blotter and local interest story' TV news. Haven't seen that one in decades.

Dennis Atkins
Friday, November 14, 2003

Poverty and violent crime are strongly correlated.  That's a fact not under dispute from the left, right, or center:

[Left] http://www.fair.org/extra/9603/teen-violence.html
[Right] http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-218es.html
[Center] http://www.worldbank.org/poverty/inequal/abstracts/violence.htm

It's emminently reasonable: inequality and poverty breed despair, and despair breeds violence.  Rich people don't steal, because they don't have to.  And I don't know where you get this notion that only rich people consider themselves above the law ...

Notice that I'm talking about VIOLENT crime.  There's plenty of white-collar crime, too; few poor people are in a position to embezzle millions of dollars from their company, for example.

* * *

I tend not to watch TV news either -- not because it may have be biased (there's nothing wrong with having a bias) -- but because the news on TV is content-free and never goes in any depth beyond a sound bite or two.  TV news is entirely about entertainment, not about information.  I far prefer print media and the radio (NPR) which go into depth and aren't afraid of expressing an opinion one way or the other.

Alyosha`
Saturday, November 15, 2003

Mmmmm.... OK.
Probably I am letting my own experience with honest poor people blind me to the possibilities... and you're right that the more extreme cases of violence I gave examples of are notable because the non-poor perpetrators were more innovative in their madness and thus got more media attention.

Locally, it seems the really bad violent crimes like rape and murder are done by teenagers, followed by drug addicts, and finally drug lords. Only the drug addicts are poor as a group...

Dennis Atkins
Sunday, November 16, 2003

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