Big Brother jokey is a lot more frightening than Big Brother bureaucratic or Big Brother bombastic. Too bad this insight wasn't available to Orwell or he could have made 1984 even scarier.
I cannot imagine a scenario where the TSA becomes 'popular' now; where the populace as a whole gets respect back for them. I half expect the US government to perform a rebranding exercise within the next 5 years and hope that a change in the letterheads and badges resets the clock on an ever-more resentful populace.
> But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless.
This appears to describe behaviour of a small number of border guards and customs agents seen in a number of recent HN threads.
> If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.
At least Big Brother worked. I don't know what's worse about the jokey incompetence of the blog post: the fact that it hopelessly missed the mark for correct tone; or the thought that maybe they actually believed it; or that most people will just shrug their shoulders and think "meh, so what?" and do nothing more about it.
 for various values of small, possibly including "most of them".
AKA, Ipad3 is out, let's go shopping!
It's just written by someone not very intelligent supervised by someone of similar intelligence swimming in a sea of mediocrity.
This is my estimation of the situation.
A Hanlon's Razor moment: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
Either the government is engaging in a disinformation campaign that is so broad and so pervasive that even the blogs at the TSA are involved...
Or it's some idiot at an ineffective government organization who screwed up.
Funny you would say that... I agree, although I wasn't thinking about Fahrenheit 451 when I mentioned another "mix" scenario in another thread that touched on Nineteen Eighty-Four.
My thought then was:
Interestingly, I think reality is converging towards something like a hybrid of the two worlds described by Orwell and Huxley. Well, in the case of Huxley not so much the literal use of hypnosis and psycho-analysis, but if you treat that stuff as a metaphor, then you can see the connection.
TV, pop music, Fox News, and so much other low-value content has become the "sedative for the masses" at the same time that the government assumes more and more power and control...
"Of course," you might say, "we're nowhere close to Orwell's world with his Minitru, etc ." But if you substitute "We are at war with the USSR and the Taliban are our allies and have always been our allies" and "We are at war with the Taliban and the Russians are our allies and have always been our allies" for certain bits of Orwell's work, you might notice some eerie parallels and scary possibilities.
Orwell was writing within the context of his time - the late 1940s. So if he were writing today, it's not too hard to imagine him writing about banning websites (ie, SOPA), or the similar actions that are going on today.
If Orwell were writing today, I imagine 1984 might look more like Cory Doctrow's 'Scroogled'
(The one main difference between the two that Orwell may have gotten 'wrong' is that it is the corporations, not the strictly the government, that serve as Big Brother in Doctrow's case - or rather, a coalition of corporations and the government. Then again, in Neal Stephenson, the corporations eventually become the government, so that's not as significant a difference as it really might seem.)
Huxley might have been more right for many places (certainly seems so for 'the west'), but Orwell seems to have been pretty dead on about some of the more oppressive regimes of the world - North Korea for instance?
For obvious security reasons, we can’t discuss our
technology's detection capability in detail, however TSA
conducts extensive testing of all screening technologies
in the laboratory and at airports prior to rolling them
out to the entire field.
Imaging technology has been extremely effective in the
field and has found things artfully concealed on
passengers as large as a gun or nonmetallic weapons, on
down to a tiny pill or tiny baggies of drugs.
It’s one of the best tools available to detect metallic
and non-metallic items, such as… you know… things that go
With all that said, it is one layer of our 20 layers of
security (Behavior Detection, Explosives Detection
Canines, Federal Air Marshals, , etc.)
and is not a machine that has all the tools we need in one
handy device. We’ve never claimed it’s the end all be all.
The punchline is that the TSA's budget is double that of Facebook's $3.7 billion in revenue. $8.1 billion in tax dollars for a gang of complete morons.
I think there actually is something to be said for PR people having good spelling and grammar.
The way this blog post is written might give the impression that the TSA is not a professional organization. It reflects poorly on the agency. It might lead one to the conclusion that if the public face of the TSA can't communicate effectively, the organization might have other problems as well.
edit: I just looked at the blogger's bio (http://blog.tsa.gov/2008/01/meet-our-bloggers_29.html), here's the interesting bit for context:
> I started with the TSA in September 2002. I worked at the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) for 5 years and am currently residing at TSA headquarters. I started as a Transportation Security Officer (TSO), and have since been promoted to a Social Media Analyst with the Office of Strategic Communications and Public Affairs to manage and write for the Blog.
ARGHH. Despite what I said I fucking hate typos, to the extent that most of my friends now correct their own when texting/IMing just so I don't do it for them.
To the rest of your comment: I completely agree that it reflects badly on the TSA, just not that it means the individual is stupid. Much the same as a company that has a website that looks like it was designed literally by a 6 year old in MS paint has clearly done something moronic, but the fact that they aren't artistic doesn't mean the person who made it is not intelligent.
Speaking intuitively, if you can't judge someone's intelligence by their writing ability, what possible measure could you use? Grammatical deficiencies are symptoms of conceptual deficiencies.
Speaking technically, vocabulary tests are some of the most highly g-loaded batteries around:
Different tests in a test battery may correlate with (or
"load onto") the g factor of the battery to different
degrees. These correlations are known as g loadings. An
individual test taker's g factor score can be estimated
using the loadings. Full-scale IQ scores from a test
battery will usually be highly correlated with g factor
scores. For example, the correlations between g factor
scores and full-scale IQ scores from Wechsler's tests
have been found to be greater than .95. The g loadings of
mental tests are always positive and range from slightly
greater than zero to slightly less than unity. Raven's
Progressive Matrices is among the tests with the highest
g loadings, around .80. Tests of vocabulary and general
information are also typically found to have high g
Yet whatever your definition of intelligence, I believe it is hard to deny that the TSA is run by morons.
To give a more specific critique: vocabulary tests are done in a controlled environment, and hence can not be used to judge the correlation of vocabulary with IQ (or g, etc) in any other environment (unless of course someone has studied this problem and published results).
For example, many otherwise intelligent people exhibit vocabulary deficits, working memory deficits, and many other correlates with stupidity when talking to attractive members of the opposite gender. This doesn't mean that they have a low IQ or g-factor.
In this case, since this was a blog post written at what must have been a very difficult time in this poor TSA blogger's career, I don't think we can really say that their vocabulary is highly indicative of intelligence or g-factor.
That said, I do agree that the TSA is run by morons :p
I would submit that this in itself ought to disqualify him from an important position in an agency as putatively critical as the TSA. People working there, especially those in positions of responsibility, ought to be able to work effectively under pressure.
Grammatically correct phrases are proof of mastering the language, not of IQ. Specially if English is not your mother tongue.
Vocab tests and writing skills are not the same.
Who says you can judge it by their ability to write? That's assuming the conclusion and not very intelligent where I come from.
Also there are many people who write great but have nothing intelligent to say.
Assuming you actually know what grammar is as distinct from usage, and don't try to claim someone is less intelligent just because they have a different style of usage from you.
For example, using a split infinitive is not indicative of anything other than the style that person prefers. Same with the passive voice more often than not (assuming the person doing the marking actually knows what the passive voice is, as most of the people who get aggrieved over it do not).
And, of course, if you think someone who speaks a dialect distinct from the prestige dialect must be less intelligent, that says terrible things about your own intellect.
"The correlation could easily be negative at the high end of the IQ scale and positive at the low end of the IQ scale."
This is conjecture, though. And, while entirely possible, it doesn't necessarily seem to be borne out by available evidence.
"Great writers don't expose their minds they shape the readers mind..."
This is a false dichotomy. "Exposing" one's mind, and influencing someone else's, are not mutually exclusive activities. Furthermore, shaping a reader's mind is not the sole province of the "great" writer. Terrible writers are often capable of influencing people. While I would agree that stronger writers are probably more capable of influence, influence itself is an after-effect of writing and an observational artifact. It is not intrinsic to the written product.
My point is that, since writing is necessarily an act of expression, the strength of one's expression reveals something about the strength of what one is trying to express. It's hard to cleanly separate the two.
Now, I'll readily concede that intelligence is probably not the most important variable in the quality of one's writing. Things like training, education, practice, exposure to other writing (via reading), etc., are far more important. But intelligence is in the equation. Exactly how significant it is is up for debate.
My point is simply that someone like mark twain is able to bend otherwise poor grammar to fit a number of ends. Because the English language so redundant and people are used to imperfect prose you can convey some types of subtext though gibberish more cleanly than you can with perfect prose.
There are plenty of hacks that confuse the issue, but don't confuse pretense with actual mastery.
Mark Twain was a master of the English language. We shouldn't confuse his characters' "poor grammar" with his. Huck Finn talks like a redneck because Huck Finn is a redneck. That's not Mark Twain's voice; that's his character's voice.
By contrast, read an essay by Mark Twain. The language and style are markedly different from those of his novels. Sure, there are some allowances for colloquialisms. But those are stylistic choices, not failings to grasp the mechanics of grammar or syntax.
"you can convey some types of subtext though gibberish more cleanly than you can with perfect prose."
It's not about perfect prose; it's about clarity and economy of communication. There's no such thing as "perfect" prose, anyhow. But there are such things as clumsy prose and clear prose, or correct syntax and incorrect syntax. Generally speaking, it's preferable to be on the latter end of those spectra unless writing for particular effect.
In general, bad grammar makes a bad first impression. I allow them to prove otherwise with the content of what they're saying.
The second reason is, in my opinion, the most important: even if you simplify people down to two categories, "people who have fully grasped all spelling/grammar" and "people who have done their best but still fail to get it right", the only way to say that the second group is less intelligent than the first is to massively simplify intelligence, the same way IQ tests do.
If you're a mathematical genius but have terrible spelling, poor social skills, and basically no skills in anything outside maths, are you intelligent? What about if you're a literary giant whose best-sellers are praised by snobby critics and working class teenagers alike, but who couldn't square 15 without a calculator, are you intelligent?
Here's a quote I like:
"But there has always been something opaque about I.Q. In the first place, there’s no consensus about what intelligence is. Some people think intelligence is the ability to adapt to an environment, others that capacity to think abstractly, and so on."
That's taken from http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/14/opinion/14brooks.html?_r=1 which follows nicely on from what I'm saying.
I think I've probably rambled on quite enough, but will just finish on a subjective note. I score high on IQ tests, I'm quick with numbers, I (until getting bored and dropping out of school) got high marks on exams without studying, yet I can think of many people I consider more intelligent than myself who couldn't say what I have just said about myself. Think about it yourself - I think it's unlikely (though possible of course) that you're the most intelligent person you know, even by your own judgement, and of those you rank above yourself, I doubt they all excel in every single area that could be used to judge intelligence.
$ cat /usr/share/dict/words | grep -c ie
$ cat /usr/share/dict/words | grep -c ei
# cat /usr/share/dict/british-english-insane | grep -c cie
# cat /usr/share/dict/british-english-insane | grep -c cei
With the general "i before e"... Is being more often true than false enough to make it a valid "rule"? Using your numbers it's correct ~60% of the time, with my dictionary it's correct ~76% of the time:
# cat /usr/share/dict/british-english-insane | grep -c ie
# cat /usr/share/dict/british-english-insane | grep -c ei
I suppose one way would be to assume that british-english-small (with 50083 words compared to insane's 638286) is comprised of the five thousand most used words (which I assume is roughly the logic?)...
Small shows that "i before e" is correct 88% of the time, and "cei not cie" is correct ~27%.
So in fact, limiting to most common words does make both percentages go up, the "except after c" is still much more often wrong than right, and the general "i before e" is... perhaps now high enough to call a good rule? Not sure.
See also the people using English as a second language.
I agree that the blog was awful and reflects really poorly on TSA. There is a big difference between simple English or plain English and bad English.
Demonstrating "correct" grammar merely demonstrates memorization of expected social norms ('communicate as the group does') for the group that one is a member of -- or wishes to be a member of. "Incorrect" grammar is not a global quality as all grammar and vocabulary is local with respect to group membership, geography, language exposure, temporal presence, and other factors. In addition there are certain idioms and informal speech present in specific social groups that may not conform to even that own group's peculiar grammar and lexicon!
Grammar and vocabulary are often a type of shibboleth used to demonstrate group membership or to discern group membership of an individual you are evaluating. Quite often pedantic demonstrations of grammarian prescriptivism is merely attempted to assert their social norm on another person of a different social group membership and are often uninformed as to the derivations of the rules they are attempting to impose. In other words, outside of pedagogic concerns, it's a dominance demonstration typical of primates and should generally be considered as nothing more.
No, it's not. A run-on is when two or more independent clauses are joined without a conjunction or the like. So "I went the store I bought bread" is run-on. In your example, "however" functions as the conjunction. It may be overly long and unwieldy and could perhaps do with a few more commas, but those are style issues.
> "on down" is faulty parallelism.
"As large as...on down to..." Not sure how that's faulty, sounds fine to my ears. If anything, this sentence should be criticized for seemingly talking about "passengers as large as a gun" at first parse. Not strictly grammatically wrong, but it's painful to make sense of.
> Two ellipses in one sentence?
Also not a grammatical error.
> The phrase is "the be all and end all" or "the be-all and end-all".
Says who, the great deity of idioms? I've heard and read it as "end all be all", although I'd prefer it was rendered as something like "end-all, be-all" or "end-all/be-all".
> Leaving aside the content, it's just poorly written.
Agree 1000%: it's unbecoming, tone-deaf, and totally off-putting. But those are stylistic criticisms, not grammatical ones.
I’m not sure your parent was actually incorrect.
Even you agree that his point stands, so your post is not constructive.
It may not have been constructive, but it was deconstructive, and I think that's valuable too.
(did not downvote you, btw)
This is uncharacteristic - for a national security organization - even as a blog post. When people question authority, and the emperor has no clothes: resort to fear-mongering and keywords that incite panic? Check.
This blog post is going to be archived and referenced for the next decade. I'd say some restructuring is about to be pushed down TSA's throats. BOOM indeed.
"This was such a carefully worded blog post that one can safely conclude that the vulnerability described in the video is true.
I especially like your use of phrases like "some guy" and "crude attempt" in an attempt to discredit the allegations without actually addressing the allegations themselves."
Wikipedia lists literature back to 1835, though I think ancient Romans would have been able to write awesome dystopian literature: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dystopian_literature
I couldn't read any further.
- Ad-Hominem attacks on the person raising the questions
- No direct refutatio of the specific points raised in the Video
- Co-relation and causation confusion (we have found x hence we are effective against the things in the video)
- Pathetic attempt at informal tone of voice
- Appeal to Stats and big impressive numbers when none is justified
In short - Americans need to be really upset that their security is handled by these buffoons.
Whoever wrote or approved this post ought to be fired. Fast.
If you joke about carrying a weapon, about violence, or anything the TSA does not like...
Immediate grounds for (at best) a thorough pat-down. Or being added to a no-fly list. Or being tossed out of airport security. Or being detained away from your family.
Now the TSA makes an even more incendiary joke about "things that go BOOM" and it's all dandy from their perspective. Talk about hypocrisy.
The guy is substituting pre-deployment testing for on-going penetration testing by a diverse group of independent individuals. If this was Microsoft's attitude towards security, Windows 8 would still be as secure as Windows 95....
Thus solving the problem once and for all.
It's indicative of a culture of arrogance, disrespect, poor decision-making, and anything but reverence for the value of the service that the organization is charged with.
They're probably not permitted to use the "b-word" out of concern for spooking passengers, much as passengers are not permitted to use the "b-word" out of concern for spooking the screeners.
If no one slips a bomb past them, they've done their job; If someone slips a bomb past them, they'll only grow bigger and more menacing.
Also their "20 layers of security" chart is an unintentionally hilarious masterpiece. Note the arrow they've drawn circumventing every layer of security apart from passengers. So really, we can't say they didn't warn us.
Well, we were vetting crews before 911. How many attacks did that layer stop? The sentence needs a qualifier: "...through that vector."
You have "Blogger Bob" telling us to ignore the video "some guy" made and that everything's fine because this is just one of the way they protect you from "things that go BOOM".
Also, the blog never disputes the video. There is no text that tries to say that the video was faked or anything, or provides any indication that the video and the vulnerabilities contained therein aren't exactly as they appear.
Finally, just because I'm feeling particularly nitpicky tonight: they're using Blogger's favicon and are hosted on Google's servers (DNS resolves to ghs.l.GOOGLE.COM). Maybe it's just me, but that strikes me as a touch unprofessional as well.
In any event the TSA is not taking enough credit here. Did you know their scanners have prevented meteorites? They have also prevented tiger attacks. Since installing them there has not been a single instance of meteorites hitting planes or tiger attacks on planes. I think the US government should borrow even more money so we can get them to also prevent giraffe attacks.
“I call it the corny dad approach. I’m basically the Bob Saget of blogging,” the 41-year-old tells Bloomberg Businessweek. “This isn’t really the most exciting subject, so I thought I should inject some personality into it.” Three years removed from working the security lines himself—he used to train TSA officers at the Cincinnati airport—Blogger Bob has clearly gained some perspective on the experience. 
Whether or not entertainment has a place in government blogging is an argument for another day, but I think we can all agree that under no circumstances should this type of blog post ever be allowed as an official government response.
Imaging technology has been extremely effective in the field and has found things artfully concealed on passengers as large as a gun or nonmetallic weapons, on down to a tiny pill or tiny baggies of drugs.
This reminded me of part of the recent TSA Fail post by a former FBI agent.
Civil libertarians on both sides of the aisle should be appalled at an unauthorized use to which TSA is putting their screening: Identifying petty criminals--using one search method to achieve a secret goal. This is strictly forbidden in other government branches. In the FBI, if I had a warrant to wiretap an individual on a terrorism matter and picked-up evidence of a non-terrorism-related crime, I could not, without FBI Headquarters and a judge’s approval, use that as evidence in a criminal case. But TSA is using its screening devices to carve out a niche business. According to congress, TSA began to seek out petty criminals without congressional approval. TSA have arrested more than 1,000 people on drug charges and other non-airline security-related offenses to date.
The post concludes on an entirely unrelated point to the premise of the post
|Anybody can opt out of the body scanner for a pat-down.
Sure, I'm carrying in a gun in my shirt pocket I'd like to get on the plane. Let me just request the patdown to make sure I get caught.
I've never seen anything so awesomely refuted. Even if you don't speak German, watch it. Basically, they do a scan of the man, who claims to be carrying a swiss army knife, and only find a mobile and the microphone transmitter on the back that's inevitable since they're on TV.
However, the man is carrying thermite (three vials), an igniter for the thermite, a vial that can contain even more explosive and a normal igniter.
They claimed that in an airport situation he'd be wearing the jacket and that they'd also have done a side view. Which is funny because these scanners can penetrate clothing while showing skin - that's the whole point of them... and a side view wouldn't have helped much considering that he was carrying something in his mouth and near his lower back.
They take the stuff (which is made from materials available in any pharmacy for a 'few cent') outside that he carried in his lower back area and set it on fire, which melts through the pan.
One of the body-scanner people calls the whole thing 'limitedly funny'. Then he says that "I don't know if we're well advised if we say 'look how stupid the terrorists are' if they'd do it like a professor advises, 'then we could bring down a 747'".
The professor moves the pan a bit and the whole thing ignites a bit more. The whole screen turns white before the camera person decides to move back a little.
And it isn't being used by the TSA. In fact, ThruVision's website does not cite a single instance of their scanner being used anywhere in the world for passenger screening.
In other words, the video has NOTHING to do with current screening technology.
The igniter in his mouth wasn't found, and it's not outside the realm of imagination that a more committed person, like a terrorist, would carry the other stuff not in the lower back area but somewhere somewhat different and harder to find.
How about we take it for granted that 99.999999% of people aren't terrorists and to consider a short interview with a passenger or a metal detector sweep or random swabs for spectographic analysis good enough?
I won't defend the TSA or Big Sister at all, but just pointing out that they weren't using these.
I didn't watch the subtitled version, so I'm not clear on exactly was going on. But the images - which didn't look at all like the screen shots that I've seen online - were a tip-off that this didn't represent current equipment.
"... things that go BOOM"
Are you f*ing kidding me ? Is that how a govt official is supposed to communicate ?
Leave alone the content, but the tone of the post is very crass, insensitive & insulting.
Unfortunately, this is becoming increasingly common, even in some of the most liberal cities in the US & the world.. San Francisco bay area.
Check out http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2890052 & http://bit.ly/bartisevil on the high-handedness of BART PD (Bay Area Rapid Transit)
...with tasks like "You will develop and approve solutions to current and anticipated problems"
I think Blogger Bob is writing some of these job descriptions, too.
Makes me sick.
Here are the benefits Blogger Bob gets:
DHS offers competitive salaries and an attractive benefits package, including: health, dental, vision, life, and long-term care insurance; retirement plan; Thrift Savings Plan [similar to a 401(k)]; Flexible Spending Account; Employee Assistance Program; personal leave days; and paid federal holidays. Other benefits may include: flexible work schedules; telework; tuition reimbursement; transportation subsidies; uniform allowance; health and wellness programs; and fitness centers. DHS is committed to employee development and offers a variety of employee training and developmental opportunities. For more information, go to www.dhs.gov/careers and select "benefits."
[quote from article]
Imaging technology has been extremely effective in the field and has found things artfully concealed on passengers as large as a gun or nonmetallic weapons, on down to a tiny pill or tiny baggies of drugs. It’s one of the best tools available to detect metallic and non-metallic items, such as… you know… things that go BOOM.
My eyes kept twitching from "things that go BOOM" to the URL, to the conceivably-fake logo, back to "things that go BOOM", back to the URL, back to the logo, etc. It took me a good six to seven seconds before reality sunk in.
I'm really hoping that this is simply an example of an organization that neither takes its blog seriously nor provides much oversite over its content. If anyone at the TSA read this post and signed off on it—wow.
The author of this post made no attempt to dispute the video, instead focusing on the fact that their are other security measures. Oh, and the author inexplicably felt it would be important mentioned that you can opt-out of the scanners if you want. What did I just read?!
(tsaoutourpants is Jonathan Corbett)
Here's an interview with Blogger Bob that Google returned:
Apparently, being snarky on the government dime pays quite well. Dude appears to be rocking a Rolex.
Is this for real? When did the TSA start doing drug searches? Can they effect arrests?
I'll be honest - I'm a little shocked that a supposedly "official" blogging site is writing like a half-tweaked 13 year old and is bragging about doing drug searches at a supposed check for weapons.
It's also pretty irresponsible to make claims about the scanning system like, " It is completely safe " - I suspect that "Blogger Bob Burns" neither has the background, nor the authority to make such claims (let alone the knowledge). About all he(?) should be doing is suggesting which certifying authority has provided a clean-bill-of-health on their scanners.
All in all the most disturbing thing I've read in a couple weeks.
Number of terrorist attacks attempted since 2001 over US airspace: MORE THAN ZERO
"Crude" attempt? "you know… things that go BOOM"? I sincerely hope you take anyone's claim seriously, public or otherwise, that they can circumvent any security measure put in place by the TSA. The tone of your blog post smacks of disregard; if you thought it would invoke confidence on the part of the reader, you thought wrong.
The biggest defense put forth: well, we have other security detection methods so, hah!
Don't you get that the point about the body scanners is that they can be beaten? That they're superfluous to the security regimen? That if you can't defend them directly, they serve no real purpose? That's the point of the video, and it's completely lost on you (and obviously others for whom you speak.)
As is the impression among so many travelers, the TSA confuses "feeling safe" with "being safe" and it appears your post simply reinforces that view.
Visions of the SNL parody skit from years ago come to mind.
That means that it's a complete black-box and if you just beat the scanner's algorithms, you beat the scanner operators too.
What a complete and utter joke.
I keep thinking, "If this were a post by Microsoft about a security vulnerability report, I'd be in business doing Linux migrations for the rest of my life."
Yes, he does not deny or dispute whether the method works as claimed.
The otherwise hip language is not helping nor does it sound sincere, I agree.
But, if we want to stay objective:
1) He describes the demonstration in the video as a "crude attempt", which is in certain ways true. Neither is the attempt too sophisticated, nor the documentation of it, or should I say especially the documentation. The video itself is lacking in scientific argumentation, and makes up for the lack thereof with unnecessary political rhetoric that I don't need to be fed to see the simple "flaw" he claims to have discovered - more about that now...
2) The person in the video may or may not be sincere about his claims, but he definitely is not the first person to point out this "flaw". It was known publicly for a very long time, and it is reasonable to assume people who developed and approved the system were well aware of it.
3) Everyone is pointing out that there is no attempt at a "scientific" refutation in the blog post. Well, he is right in stating that their claim never was that they can catch any single concealed object with the body scanner. I don't see what it is exactly that he needs to refute. It is indeed part of a layered system, and I can't see how anyone can disagree with this concept. I'm not saying the scanner is a reasonable layer or that it should stay - but if your argument is "it has to work 100% or it has to go", it is pretty weak. He doesn't really evade any serious accusation here - he simply points out the obvious and reinstates their claim: what was shown in the video is uninteresting, because the body scanner was never about catching metal boxes sewn to the side of a shirt with 98.5% confidence.
You can argue the body scanner is an economical disaster, dispute it on the basis of privacy or bring up health concerns, but I like to stay objective. There is nothing wrong with this post, as a response to the demonstration in the video, beyond the silly language.
> You can argue the body scanner is an economical disaster, dispute it on the basis of privacy or bring up health concerns, but I like to stay objective. There is nothing wrong with this post, as a response to the demonstration in the video, beyond the silly language.
The post does not address the main criticism in the video, which is that the body scanner does not actually help with security.
> It was known publicly for a very long time, and it is reasonable to assume people who developed and approved the system were well aware of it.
That is true. And a reasonable conclusion, advocated by the video as well, is that the people who developed and approved the system don't actually care if it offers any security advantage.
The TSA's post only makes sense if you live in a world where the TSA's job is to grow, expand, gain more power, influence and budgets. And so does your analysis of it.
I think it is the majority here that fell for the causation-correlation fallacy. Just because you can cheat a security system with high confidence does not make it obsolete on that grounds alone. Imagine a hypothetical security system that keeps you from taking any kind of firearm, but lets knives pass through. Well, yes, then the "terrorists" can still arm themselves with katanas and wreak havoc, but it did stop them from doing the same with Uzis, which might decrease the impact of such an attack.
> The TSA's post only makes sense if you live in a world where the TSA's job is to grow, expand, gain more power, influence and budgets. And so does your analysis of it.
It is a dangerous thing to evaluate rational argumentation in a political context - sadly something we see too often - especially if you want this argumentation to hold universally, including extending it to the Congress. All I'm saying is if you base your argument against TSA on the premise presented in the video, you aren't likely to be taken seriously by the same fraction who approved of this system in the first place and continue to support it. There are many good arguments against the body scanners and the TSA in general, focusing on a hyped viral video lacking a sound rationale only weakens your cause.
Actually, it does. Because the threat is not randomly selected from a pool -- it is selected specifically to bypass the security system.
It's like saying that a guard that only works 9-5 in a store that has no locked door is a reasonable security system against thieves because it will catch those that arrive 9-5. No, that's not how it works -- it means no thief will come 9-5, and all thieves will arrive when the guard is not there.
Any easy-to-bypass security system is obsolete as a security system (although it may have other uses, such as extracting money from taxpayers).
> All I'm saying is if you base your argument against TSA on the premise presented in the video, you aren't likely to be taken seriously by the same fraction who approved of this system in the first place and continue to support it.
You conveniently ignore the fact that these people (Chertoff et al, who are directly profiting from it) do not care about security (as has been demonstrated time and again before this video), and are therefore unlikely to care about any rational argument.
This blog post is just feels forced, and makes me a little quesy...
So, why did they defer those safety studies anyway? Just a scheduling conflict? Too busy with an election?
The things that we have to be subjected to just to satisfy campaign contributors.
Couldn't this "vulnerability" be fixed if they took two scans? Take one of front/back (current approach) and then ask the person to turn 90 degrees and take another scan? to see the sides?
The problem with that is, that it a) doubles the amount of time needed to scan one person and b) doubles the duration of exposure to radiation.
therefore, we'd be better of with metal detectors.
Aside from that, the TSA would have to explain, that body scanners are useless without scanning twice and we therefore need to expose you to the double amount of radiation...
The scan went fine, but on the other side, the TSA agent noticed that due to the fold of my jeans, it looked like I had something in my pocket. He said he had to pat me down to make sure I didn't have anything in there.
Which made me seriously doubt the efficacy of the backscatter machines. What's the point of the machine if something could slip through that would still necessitate a physical body search?
Security through obscurity.
Are they afraid that if they disclose information people would somehow be able to find holes? If this is the case then why is this technology used? Why have gapping holes already been pointing out by numerous people?
Thinking that "the terrorists" don't have the ability to break this system without understanding the intricate details of it is just downright stupid.
If anything, this post does nothing but give the impression that the flaw in the scanners IS true.
The way I read it:
For obvious job security reasons, we can’t discuss our technology's detection capability in detail...
Anyway, I sure feel safe knowing that the security of my life is entrusted to obscurity, and I'm thankful for the trolling TSA blog posts that remind me of this.
Yes, because security through obscurity is an effective policy.
But the worse is that only a terrible event could prove them wrong and stop the nonsense.
If that video brought on so much heat that they had to respond like this and drop the ball so much, queue more public outrage and major back-pedalling in 3.....2.....1....
Can you think of a case in history where continued government incompetence (or outright malice, depending on your point of view) that was demonstrated and gained a lot of valid criticism and public outrage, actually resulted in a change?
More seriously, these jokers let terrorists waltz on board planes (e.g. The Shoebomber) and only the passengers, treated like criminals by TSA, stop them.
Time to send the rentacops back to the mall.
Wondering if it'll show up with my tags... http://delicious.com/quink
Can someone else tag it too with my tags and it might show up on their page...?
https://twitter.com/#!/tsagov (TSA satire)
Keep up the great work TSA and thank you for putting my worries to rest.
Do I need to put sarcasm tags?
"It’s one of the best tools available to detect metallic and non-metallic items, such as… you know… things that go BOOM. "
If you shat out an emotion frmo that sentence, you too much of a baby to use the internet, LEAVE.
Completely addresses privacy concerns; is completely safe; oh and hey, it's completely optional, assuming you don't prefer molestation and possibly randomly missing your flight.
Well that makes me feel great. Guess they decided they been caught blatantly lying on that point before so they decided to reiterate it, just with sufficiently vague qualifiers.
Isn't it 30% effective in auditor tests.... oh wait you have a post that claims 30% is inaccurate but doesn't actually disprove the figure or provide accurate figures: http://blog.tsa.gov/2010/12/70-detection-failure-rate-being....
They surprisingly don't point that out. (har har)