Boston Marathon Bombed

Discussion in 'What's On Your Mind?' started by Caradoc, Apr 15, 2013.

  1. Wow. If that's true, then the system is worse than I even thought. What about all the cultures in which first name goes last and last goes first? And all the cultures where there are half a dozen middle names, and any one can become the first name on a whim? Billions of dollars thrown at a system that hinges on a basic spreadsheet?
  2. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    Because the airline booking system started, develops, and is based in the US, everything is forced into a US "vernacular", if you will. All airline ticket names are Anglicanized using Romanized characters. The airline booking system works no other way. It is a 1960s technology that is updated using twine and bubble gum.

    Quite simply, airline booking and data systems, of which there are now essentially 3 and all others are built on top of one of these 3 worldwide, are built using a 1960s American format. So, everybody has a first name, a last name, and a middle initial using Roman/Arabic characters. In Asian countries they use the same format, but recognize that culturally they use the family name first. That's why you can hear public pages in Tokyo for Mr. Smith Joshua. That's also why you'll notice on a ticket that your middle initial is run square into your first name, so Joe S Smith becomes SMITH/JOES. Imagine the hapless, dimwitted and likely dyslexic clerk. That name could easily be José Smith to that clerk and any check against The List would be meaningless.

    Furthermore, in an airline reservations system the 2 fields where a passenger's name prints on a board pass and where data is sent externally - ie to DHS's watchlist center or whatever - never cross reference. The 2 would have to be manually - MANUALLY - reconciled. Does anyone really think that they're going to do that for more than 2 million people a day? Uh, no.

    So, they're taking a "risk based" approach, which is making us all less safe if we are to believe that these stupid lists actually mean anything anyway. Let's put Tamerlan Tsarnaev on a list of some kind. Let's say a travel agent booked his ticket, or maybe a family member who is EnglishNotSoGood. Maybe that name became Tamerlin G. Csarnaev during the booking process. He gets to play the Name Game. On a casual glance of the BP by a pseudoBDO TDC the all caps name in a format of CSARNAEV/TAMERLING could conceivably be missed by matching a document to an ID, and pronunciation of a some weird furriner name would sound good enough. Or more likely the name on the BP is entered correctly and the name as entered in the second field sent off to DHS is fat finger typoed, and doesn't match The List. Off he goes. No ping. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

    Otherwise every conceivable misspelling of any name on The List would have to be included on The List in order to make it effective. But then The List becomes too big and everyone gets hassled. So you only include on the list the actual spelling because people aren't going to misspell their own name, right?

    And that's how this whole charade is thwarted.
    phoebepontiac likes this.
  3. Wow. I don't know why I'm still shocked when the curtain gets pulled back like this, but I am. I'll fully admit that just after 9/11, I was pretty freaked out and accepted DHS at face value, and that those in charge had noble intentions. But I've known the ugliness of it for a long time now, and yet I'm still stunned when something turns out to be this stupid.
    barbell likes this.
  4. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    I honestly think it's just utter stupidity that causes these things.

    Their hearts are in the right place. The problem is, bless their hearts, they're stupid.

    Their entire system rests on finding dishonest ne'erdowells by relying on everybody being honest. How well do you think that's going to work out?
    Elizabeth Conley likes this.
  5. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    EBCDIC, baby, EBCDIC! That's the alphabet that God (and O29 keypunches) understood when the airline reservations systems were first written. Well, it's possible that AA started with BCD & O26.

    I doubt if their watch-list matchups are any more sophisticated than Soundex or Metaphone comparisons, both of which are supported by MySQL, and both of which are heavily rooted in English (Soundex coding was invented for the 1880 U.S. census).
  6. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    Wow, so this debacle goes back even further than 1960.

    There you have it, these watchlists run on 1800's tech. Genius.
  7. Caradoc

    Caradoc Original Member

    I doubt it. I've never seen a boarding pass or other ticketing information that included anything in lower-case - so if EBCDIC, it's a bastardized version of it.
  8. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    You apparently apparently never programmed an S/360 using an O29 keypunch to crank out the card decks. Everything was upper case. And in EBCDIC.

    Even when we "upgraded" to communications terminals based on Selectric typewrites (VM/370-CMS & CALL/370), our output was still all upper case.

    Line printers in those days generally could not handle upper/lower case.

    Just because EBCDIC itself provided for lower case does not mean that systems and applications used it. Very, very few did.
  9. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    I was just speculating, but there's a strong possibility that's exactly what's done. Soundex & metaphones are still standard today in database matches for phonetic similarities, and no other industry standard has emerged.

    Now for $64 question: If the computers go down, will Nappy roll up her shirtsleeves and help run the counter-sorters to check for tewwowrists?
  10. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Also remember that the grand-daddy of all airline reservations systems was American Airlines's SABRE, developed in the late 50's to run on IBM 7090's. This would have used BCD & O26 keypunches. SABRE didn't migrate to S/360 until the 1970's.

    There were a couple others systems developed by IBM from the SABRE code base, e.g. Deltamatic, to run on IBM 70x0 & S/360 mainframes.
  11. Caradoc

    Caradoc Original Member

    Nope. Predates my experience by about six or eight years.
  12. KrazyKat

    KrazyKat Original Member

    And I might be on TIDE too because of some unanswerable narrative (provided out of jealousy or collections or bad coppers...), so my RFID passport probably pings such fishwife assist.
  13. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member
    a woman who sells fish. 2. : a vulgar abusive woman. See fishwife defined for English-language learners ». Origin of FISHWIFE. Middle English. First Known ..

    See also Janet Napolitano
    KrazyKat likes this.
  14. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    Your thread on how these things work brought to mind this oldie but goody (for a good time, play the Word file, if it still works: actual recordings of information desk pagings at LHR years ago, at the
    request of some prankers):

    LHR Info Desk Recordings
  15. KrazyKat

    KrazyKat Original Member

    Run down possibly by the police.

    And then there's the changing story of the younger's arrest.
    Hard to shoot yourself when you have no gun.
    Was this boat covered in blood when he was climbing out?

    Elizabeth Conley likes this.
  16. Elizabeth Conley

    Elizabeth Conley Original Member

    I'm now very confused about what happened during all the police encounters with the two terrorist suspects, and a little irritable every time I try to piece it together.

    It's so messy, and I hate the idea that everything that spews from the authorities is just CYA and drivel.

    We pay our taxes. Why can't we get straight scoop from our employees?
    KrazyKat and phoebepontiac like this.
  17. I'm reading this CBS News article about the "fog of war" and I'm struck by this "fog of war, what can you do" point of view they're trying to push now. All of this was fake drama -- the likelihood that they were wearing suicide vests, the stolen police SUV, the robbed 7-11, Djokhar's gun battle from the boat, Djokhar running down his brother with the car, etc., etc... But it's not an "oh well, what can you do" situation. It's very very bad, because it was the heightened drama and threat that were used to justify martial law, which may now be the new normal. Media and social media were complicit, but law enforcement ran with the opportunity, and now here we are.

    I now wonder about the story of the brothers evading police by throwing explosives out the window of their car. Has that yet been debunked? I also think that any "confessions" made by Djokhar, either written or verbal, while he was interrogated in his hospital bed with GSW's to the throat and hand and other very incapacitating injuries, should be met with healthy skepticism. We've been lied to, now they admit it. We need to stop accepting the narrative now, if not to give Djokhar a chance at a fair trial, at least to give ourselves a chance to take back our right to be secure in our persons, houses, papers, and effects.
    barbell and KrazyKat like this.
  18. RB

    RB Founding Member

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  19. Doober

    Doober Original Member

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  20. KrazyKat

    KrazyKat Original Member

    When a terrorist's statements have more credibility than those of the police, that's a problem.

    This reminds me of 9/11 where the sympathy and support of the whole world was right there--and what was done with that capital?

    Some police spokeshole was saying what happened at #2's arrest, true or not, really didn't matter. The perp was alive, and it was over.
    Well, wrong, buddy. It does matter. Needlessly spraying bullets, forcing people out of their homes, nearly killing a surrendering suspect so important to take alive--and then lying about it--it all matters, a lot. This disgrace sullies what should have been.

    Like RB says, I only hope these misdeeds and lies get the media attention they deserve. Obviously "war" is not the answer, here or abroad.
    phoebepontiac and barbell like this.

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