Friday, August 25, 2006

The ten billion dollar binky

Apparently the phenomenon I described as "Airport theater" is more well known and discussed than I originally thought.

The Wikipedia has an article on "Security Theater".

What galls me about the need for Security Theater is that it caters to the ignorance of the masses. We're not supposed to be children. We're not supposed to need the government to pop a ten billion dollar binky in our mouth when we're upset. That's all it is. The world's most expensive pacifier.

We bought that instead of safer cars. Why? Because people are perfectly fine hurtling down the highway at 80 miles an hour while talking on their cellphone, and trying to pick up their spilled cheetos off the floormat. Despite the fact that 40,000 people a year die in their cars, very little is done because masses aren't crying in their cars. They're crying at the airport.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

There's no such thing as a "two headed baby".

"Doctors in Indonesia are unsure whether they can operate on a baby born with two heads, although the newborn girl is in stable condition, according to published reports."

"The baby, named Syafitri by her parents, is breathing with the assistance of a machine to ensure that enough oxygen flows from her one heart to the two heads, Channel NewsAsia reported."

Ugh. For pete's sake, this is shameful. It's not a two headed baby! There are two brains there, that means they are two people. They are conjoined twins, and require two names. Just the same as if they were only connected at the hip. It's one thing for idiot reporters to screw this up, it's quite another for the babies' parents to consider them one person.

I can just picture it:

Age 6mos: "Honey, I don't get it. One of Syafitri's heads is sleeping, but the other one is hungry."
Age 2: "Syafitri, I can't hear what your left head is saying when your right head is crying so loud."
Age 8: "Syafitri, first you say with your right head you want to go to the petting zoo, and not two seconds later, your left head says you want to see the movie! Make up your minds!"

Friday, August 11, 2006

By the numbers

Number of airline passengers killed by terrorists each year (last 30 years): 67
Number of total airline passengers worldwide, last year: 1.5 billion
Dollars spent since 9/11 on increased airport security: 18 billion

Assuming you fly 10 times per year, the rough odds of being killed by terrorists on an airplane in that year: 1 in 2,250,000.
Dollars spent since 9/11 (on average) by every man, woman, and child in America, on increased airport security: 60.

60 bucks might not sound like a lot of money. Cheap insurance, right?

Yes, 60 bucks is cheap. But what do we get for our 60 dollars? Nothing of any demonstrable value, unless you value a false sense of security. And what have we lost? The time spent in line that we could otherwise spend doing business, or on a beach. I'd rather have the 60 dollars back, and the extra hour of each trip, and take my chances.

What would happen if we all just take our chances? We all take far bigger chances all the time, just by driving to work.

Odds of being killed in an auto accident, per 10000 miles driven: 1 in 5900.

If we all had infinite lives, each of us would die about 400 times in a car crash, before we were killed once by a terrorist on an airplane. Maybe we should put those 60 bucks toward defensive driving classes.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Airport theater

Thank you, Department of Homeland Security.

Thanks to your fine actors' brilliant performances at Philadelphia International Airport the other day, I almost was able to suspend disbelief, and actually feel safer.

Your policy of forcing connecting passengers through security AGAIN made me feel all warm and safe inside. After all, if putting everyone through a metal detector once is safe, then doing it twice, is twice as safe!

And then "recommending" to me to remove my shoes. I made sure to clarify that it wasn't required. When I decided against the recommendation, and kept my shoes on, you practically body-cavity searched me. Absolutely marvelous display of safety-consciousness.

It was brilliant, I tell you. Bravo.

I was starting to think that I was the only one who knew that terrorists really can't be stopped and that all the "security" was just theater to make people feel better. Then today I saw this article that makes me think people are starting to catch on. "Oh my god, to foil their latest plot we'd have to disallow any kind of electronic device in the cabin (down to wristwatches), the same goes for drinks, or medicine." And guess what, then they realize security lines will more than triple in length, and then the security line itself will become a target. Then what?

Hey, now you guys are starting to get it.

There's nothing you can do to stop terrorism.

For every thousand dollars we spend on security, terrorists probably spend just pennies making it obsolete. We can't win this game. Just accept it and stop pouring billions of dollars into this very expensive theater production.