Holiday weekend air traffic down, car travel up

Discussion in 'Aviation Passenger Security in the USA' started by Mike, May 29, 2012.

  1. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member


    The referenced article:

    USA TODAY: 'Checkpoint of the future' takes shape at Texas
    And again, some animals are more equal than others:

    Don't fly very often? Have a swarthy complexion and "shifty" eyes? It's off to the groping gulag for you!
  2. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    And of course, Rapiscan is making money:
  3. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Keep in mind that MEM & CVG are special cases with regard to Delta. I don't think anyone honestly expected them to maintain traffic levels after the merger with NW.
  4. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    And if it's made by Rapiscan, there's a good chance it involves ionizing radiation.
  5. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    let's take a technology that doesn't work, is a danger to our health, causes an uproar because it is nothing less than a bona fide strip search, and lets just go to town with it. We want an extended look at your bits as you walk. Perverts, perverts, and enemies of freedom.

    They'd better hurry to get these things paid for. I hear tell the sugarbowl is emptying out fast.
  6. RosemaryT

    RosemaryT Original Member

    As mentioned in another post, I'm doing all I can to avoid air travel these days.

    When possible, I travel by Amtrak. When not possible (which is MOST of the time), I drive.

    In late April, I went out and paid a pretty penny for a shiny new 2012 Toyota Camry XLE hybrid. I've already put 4,000+ miles on that sweet thing. It gets 45 mpg on the highway, which means that driving is now - in many cases - cheaper than flying.

    I've really really HAD it with the TSA and the groping.

    And I'd forgotten how pleasant it is to take a long drive in a fine new automobile.

  7. Sunny Goth

    Sunny Goth Original Member Coach

    I'm with you. :)
  8. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    But now that John O'Connor has retired, who knows what we're going to get next.
  9. Sunny Goth

    Sunny Goth Original Member Coach

    True, although, the schedules are so tight -- some of those stops are mere minutes long -- I'm not sure how you can set up elaborate security checkpoints as the ones in airport. Not to mention that many of the train stations I've seen are very small. It would make the train system unusable.
  10. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    People said that about airports, too. And look what we have.
  11. Sunny Goth

    Sunny Goth Original Member Coach

    Well, I could be wrong, but I've been taking the train a lot these days and in some of those smaller stations there is no room for what the TSA does at airports. They'd have to rebuild the entire station.
  12. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    Quite true - some of the local stations in PA were just little shacks along the side of the road, barely big enough to hold 20 people. No gates, no fences, no nothing. Plus, at least in PA, their age means they're landlocked and it wouldn't even be possible to build them out to accommodate 4th-amendment killing-ground checkpoints.

    The whole paradigm is different with the rail system. The 42 was going through rural PA slowly enough in some spots that a turrrrrst could just hide in the woods and hop aboard as the train passed. I'm talking 5-10MPH for some stretches. Airplane travel makes it reasonably easy to have controlled points of entry and exit because there's no practical way to get aboard a plance once it's in the air (not that TSA didn't (expletive deleted) that one up too, with their failure to "screen" ground crew and other non-pax personnel). I mean, did you ever see that Kurt Russell flick where they try it with the stealth bomber and the 757? A whole team of Marines couldn't even pull it off properly. With trains, though, pick any spot to stage a breakdown and hop aboard, or just find a train that's waiting for a signal.

    You'd have to have pedosmurfs stationed all along all the tracks in the country to "properly" "secure" the rail system, and while 99% of them could stand to lose their spare tires with the exercise of patrolling deserted train tracks (to say nothing of the benefit it would provide to society to have them far away in the middle of nowhere instead of at our airports molesting our children), it would be a colossal waste of time, money, and effort. A terrorist willing to blow up a train will have no qualms about shooting a pedosmurf dead, and deploying 65000 clerks all along the US' railroad tracks pretty much necessitates that they go it alone to cover the ground. Even if they buddy up, in a struggle between Osama and two fat smurf-clerks, my money's on Osama.

    Even the big train stations aren't immune. Those who haven't read my liveblog of my train trip to Philly and back take note - I literally stumbled onto the boarding platform in Chicago Union Station directly from Madison Street. By accident. Because I didn't know where I was going. It was just like going down to an L station, only even easier. L stations at least have the turnstiles and occasional customer service office. The CUS platform? In a door, down some stairs, OMFGWTF TRAINZ. I could have hopped right aboard one, right then and there. They have some serious work to do at a lot of stations if they want to have airport-like security for rail, and at this point, I don't think Congress is going to be willing to give them the money. Their image of infallibility has officially cracked and I foresee bigger budget cuts in the future.

    I know Lisa and some others prefer cautious skepticism about the future, and that's totally understandable, but I don't foresee many (if any) more Big Projects(TM) in TSA's future. With budget cuts, airports switching to private security instead of pedosmurf clerks, and rising public dissatisfaction, spending what Neal Stephenson refers to as "(expletive deleted)-you money"* to outfit the entire nation's rail infrastructure with groping stations is going to go over like a lead zeppelin with Congress.

    *Read "Cryptonomicon" if you haven't. Awesome book.
  13. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    I don't mean they're going to outfit the entire nation's rail infrastructure. They don't have to. It's all for show, so all they have to do is show they're doing something. Setting up "random" checkpoints at train stations, as they are doing now and have been doing for years, is for show.

    What I'm saying is that that show could be hyped further. It could have an added cast of characters. Obviously it's impossible to "protect" the millions of miles of rail/subway not to mention highway. But this isn't about protecting anything. It's about theater (apologies to actual professionals in actual theaters).

    All they have to do is have more "random" searches of the bags of us poor saps at the big train stations -- Penn Station in New York, Union Station in DC, etc. -- as a way of pretending that they're "doing something." Because so many Americans just want to see that somebody is "doing something."

    We already know that they don't have strip-search scanners at every checkpoint at every airport. The same scenario can apply to train station "security." It's simply what they say it is.
  14. lkkinetic

    lkkinetic Original Member

    Adding nothing to the rail security discussion, but an enthusiastic +1 on CW's Cryptonomicon recommendation. It has some wonderful anti-authoritarian resonance with our shared interests. Stephenson's Baroque Cycle trilogy, which is the backstory of the ancestors of Cryptonomicon's protagonists, is also among my favorites. Highly recommended.
  15. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    While we're on the topic of sci-fi and public opinion of TSA, does anyone else here follow "Eureka" on the Sci-Fi channel?

    The recent episode "Ex Machina" had a great line by Fargo, the research institute's director, as he tried to get help with rescuing his girlfriend from an offline hard drive (it makes sense in context). The DOD, under whose purview the research center is run, is going to wipe the drive and Fargo, increasingly frustrated with being stonewalled, says "What's the matter, is homeland security too busy groping people to make a simple phone call?"

    Given that the episode had nothing to do with airports, I can't see any other interpretation than that it was an intentional stab at TSA by the show's writers. One of the reasons I like that show is that it has a very utopian and anti-authoritarian vibe to it. A few seasons ago there was a device that sequenced a person's DNA and could use it to track them anywhere in town, anytime. The safety-versus-privacy argument was brought up and while both sides were given significant weight, the argument favoring privacy was portrayed as the correct one and the machine was regarded with distrust. Bonus: the machine looked damn close to a prototype MMW scanner. Plus, in "Ex Machina," the DOD was there to install a next-generation surveillance system called (unsubtly) Panop. As in "ticon." And it, too, was regarded as unnecessarily invasive of privacy. Bonus: from what I recall, the same character (Allison Blake) who defended the DNA sequencer was opposed to Panop as being too invasive.

    Methinks the minds behind this show are not fans of the AFS mentality.

    Also, lkkinetic, I actually had just started Baroque Cycle a week ago. So far I'm digging it.
    Lisa Simeone and lkkinetic like this.
  16. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    I'm going to have to start watching this show.
    CelticWhisper likes this.
  17. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    It's a terrific show. It's far from hard sci-fi like Asimov or Clarke, but it's a lot of fun and you can tell the actors have fun making it. Think "Twin Peaks" or "Northern Exposure" meets "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids."

    Warehouse 13, a sort of sister show that's set in the same universe, is a lot of fun too and there are a couple crossover episodes.

    On this note:

    I'm wondering how much the pretense of a "sterile area" has to do with the current (albeit diminishing) degree of public acceptance of TSA's useless and unjustifiable existence.

    While we know there are security holes big enough to drive a baggage truck through at the airport, there's still the notion that we have an "over here" and an "over there" and the planes leave from "over there" and once they're up, there's no getting to them.

    I know people want to see someone Doing Something(TM), but I wonder at what point it becomes obvious enough that that "something" is completely pointless that the people who are clamoring for it realize that they're being taken for a ride.

    It should be clear that it's much, much easier to mess with trains once they've left the station than it is to mess with planes when they're airborne, and that in addition, one does not need to be a passenger or even come anywhere near a station in order to do so. Atop that, it's probably easier to cause catastrophic damage to a train from outside than from inside, since if the tracks are damaged the entire thing can derail; setting off a bomb inside a train car is potentially limited in damage scope to that car or those immediately adjacent, and has no guarantee of derailing the train.

    I'm hoping (I know, silly me, when will I learn) that this won't be lost on the general traveling public and they'll see that rail is a fundamentally different beast that's effectively impossible to secure, and thus be more inclined to cry foul at TSA interaction at train stations.
  18. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Dream on.

    People are already submitting to searches at subways all over the country. They have been for years. They aren't squawking. They're acquiescing. And look what happened at Savannah. I keep bringing it up because it bears bringing up. Everyone submitted. Passengers disembarking. Even people nabbed at random in the station who just wanted to go to the frigging bathroom. They knew it was idiocy, and they submitted anyway.
    Fisher1949 likes this.
  19. Fisher1949

    Fisher1949 Original Member Coach

    Because they're idiots.
  20. Frank

    Frank Original Member

    If you have Nexflix streaming it's really easy to play catch-up. They kinda jumped the shark in third season, but managed to survive it.

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