Category Archives: Security Theatre

It’s the principle, not the Principal of the matter

I’m not a fan of guns, and would think that most reasonable people would agree that guns in schools are a bad idea (Remember when the pro-gun boys showed up on the blog to have a say and hilarity ensued?  Good times.).

It seems that some school boards have a no toy gun policy to support the no real gun thing, which probably makes sense to most folks too.  Some toy guns look pretty real, and that could result in mistakes and tragedy.

Still, sometimes you just have to wonder what some folks are thinking:  a fourth-grader got hauled into the principal’s office in New York for playing with his LEGO in the school cafeteria (the horror…), one piece of which was a 2 inch toy gun.  The principal (decided her life was in danger and) ended up threatening the boy with suspension.  Here’s a chilling picture of the murderous weapon with which she was threatened.

Um ya.

This is exactly what the folks who wrote the policy were thinking, I’m sure.  You know what else?  I’m thinking they should remove all of the capital “L” magnets from the kindergarten rooms because if those suckers ever fall over just so, my god!  It’s a perfect replica of a Luger, and it’s pointed right at Timmy!  Heaven help the poor kid that tries to pick it up, he will probably be swarmed by three cops.

Sigh.  Doesn’t this sound a little nuts?  I mean, a LEGO gun?  Even the kid’s police officer father thinks they went a tad far beyond reason.  The mom is thinking of suing, and I say go for it.

Here’s the whole story.

Happy New Years

The last post of the year would normally be some sort of top ten list, or perhaps some new year’s resolutions.  Not here though.  Here’s the past year of the blog, highlights and lowlights.  Mostly it’s just the stuff that jumped out at me today scanning back through the year’s posts.

First off we have perfect hindsight.  This one really smarts.  Looking back at January I was excited about the new Apple TV and thought it was ready for prime time.  Flash forward to just this past week and it seems that I am as stupid as can be.

I debated my increasing maturity because I realize I am now capable of listening to cover songs without instantly rejecting them out of hand based on some sort of naive sense of purity.  I noted that the music industry continues to die without many other signs of life, in spite of some really excellent advice available for free.

Technology was still of great interest of course, as it always will be.  The ever increasing use of social networks to keep in touch with people led to greater and more intricate knowledge of your network of friends, ambient awareness was the term coined.  It’s continuing, and the Friendfeed sidebar is a good example of how that will grow even more.  This year led to even more robots designed to assist humans live every day lives, which I noted would inevitably lead to the death of us all.

I spent quite a bit of effort trash talking Mexico and Winnipeg for their attempts to make their mark on the skating world, even thought I didn’t have to defend Ottawa all that much.  We still win.  Similarly, the LimerickDB is still the best place on the web for rhyming jokes, and we sampled a few of my favourites.  Also, we were privy to the most private thoughts of a monster, disturbing stuff though it was.  I had lots of fun with rubber truck nuts, not directly however.  It doesn’t hurt that they are silly beyond belief in the first place, but then the legislation starts and things get really weird.

It seems that a series of gun-related events cause me to post about them far more often than I normally would.  One gun post even actually resulted in a series of (gasp!) comments from actual other people.  Most often it was just me complaining about them and the people who are clearly not wise enough to be holding them, especially in public.

Speaking of people not wise enough to protect anybody, how about those TSA airport screeners?  It spawned a whole new category of posts that will no doubt continue to grow.  Similarly I particularly enjoyed myself writing about a certain monkey-smuggler who succeeded and then failed in remarkable fashion.  Also we saw a family who was too stupid to protect their dog from a hungry snake, although they had several days to do something about it.

The financial crisis and subsequent auto bailout wasn’t funny, but that didn’t stop me.  It lasted a few days, but we aren’t done with it yet since there’s more to come.  Finally the strangest news story to hit here must have been the multiple feet washing ashore in B.C. I stopped mentioning it, but the story continues to this day.  Crazy.

Finally, some of the more personal posts that kept me amused over the year, I mentioned Nikki’s growing fresh laundry addiction, just one of the hazards of staying home to watch the kids.  Similarly, I revealed how she is a heat vampire bent on freezing me solid.  She also laughed heartily at me for this little escapade with the Stratus, where I learned to use the Force to drive the car.

So there you go, it’s the past year of the blog condensed for your convenience.  Hope you had a good year, I think we did.  All the best to you and yours, see you next year.

Monkey Gitmo

My apologies for missing my publishing deadline today, but with Mother Nature grabbing us firmly by the toque and giving us a good shake, all things are still out of whack.

By way of recompense, I give you the strange story of a young woman who fell in love with a monkey in Thailand and just HAD to find a way to bring it home.  Like a souvenir, but you know, of the living indigenous species kind instead of the T-shirt kind that you and I buy.  She and her mother decided that the best thing to do would be to drug the monkey, hide it in her shirt, and pretend she was pregnant to get the thing through customs.  If this sounds like crazy talk, it is.  Even better?  While they were removing their shoes, surrendering their water bottles, and generally playing their role in the security theatre, somehow the security officers managed to miss the fact that she HAD A MONKEY SLEEPING IN HER SHIRT.  At least they didn’t have a monkey AND a water bottle, but wow.  She and her mom (who was smuggling live scorpions in her undies and pretending to have Tourettes) somehow made it through customs without incident.

Then the story takes a strange turn.  

Once they got home, monkey-encumbered, apparently they were able to live for a whole year in complete normalcy.  With a monkey.  Apparently after a year this master criminal was unable to contain herself any longer: 

They were arrested after Lawson boasted to a clothing store clerk about the airport escapade.

A clothing store clerk?  You just succeeded in pulling off the biggest monkey heist ever, have been sitting pretty for a year, and then you have to go and open your banana hole to the first teenager you see at the Gap?  Even better, that teenager then proceeds to drop a dime on your butt, and someone believes them?  

Gap Teenager – “Sir?  You don’t know me but I have important information about a smuggled monkey.”

SA Dorsmacker – “This is Special Agent Dorsmacker of the Illegal Primate division.  Don’t move a muscle, we’re sending the chopper.”

Did they need to spend their time on this sort of thing?  Is this really what “security” has been reduced to?

Sigh.

Oh, and never fear:

The monkey is now at a primate rescue facility in Oregon.

Primate rescue facility, huh?  That’s code for “Monkey Gitmo” just between you and me.

Security Theatre

I recently started categorizing some posts as “security theatre” which is a great term that describes perfectly what the TSA is doing in the US with the airport security screening, no-fly lists, no shoes, no liquids, etc.  It’s described as

“..intended to provide the feeling of improved security while doing little or nothing to actually improve security.”

It helps quite a bit that the term was coined by Bruce Schneier, who happens to feature prominently in this article.  It’s a rather frustrating, but funny piece on airport security and the futility of the current screening and checkpoint process.  The war continues on liquids, shoes, nail clippers and worst of all, water bottles.   I find this sort of thing incredibly silly and considering the amount of money being wasted on it in the recent economic climate, rather irresponsible.  Still the author of the article has great fun poking huge holes in the whole screening process.

“On another occasion, at LaGuardia, in New York, the transportation-security officer in charge of my secondary screening emptied my carry-on bag of nearly everything it contained, including a yellow, three-foot-by-four-foot Hezbollah flag, purchased at a Hezbollah gift shop in south Lebanon. The flag features, as its charming main image, an upraised fist clutching an AK-47 automatic rifle. Atop the rifle is a line of Arabic writing that reads THEN SURELY THE PARTY OF GOD ARE THEY WHO WILL BE TRIUMPHANT. The officer took the flag and spread it out on the inspection table. She finished her inspection, gave me back my flag, and told me I could go. I said, “That’s a Hezbollah flag.” She said, “Uh-huh.” Not “Uh-huh, I’ve been trained to recognize the symbols of anti-American terror groups, but after careful inspection of your physical person, your behavior, and your last name, I’ve come to the conclusion that you are not a Bekaa Valley–trained threat to the United States commercial aviation system,” but “Uh-huh, I’m going on break, why are you talking to me?”

Or even better:

“…I decided to make myself as nervous as possible. I would try to pass through security with no ID, a fake boarding pass, and an Osama bin Laden T-shirt under my coat. I splashed water on my face to mimic sweat, put on a coat (it was a summer day), hid my driver’s license, and approached security with a bogus boarding pass that Schnei er had made for me. I told the document checker at security that I had lost my identification but was hoping I would still be able to make my flight. He said I’d have to speak to a supervisor. The supervisor arrived; he looked smart, unfortunately. I was starting to get genuinely nervous, which I hoped would generate incriminating micro-expressions. “I can’t find my driver’s license,” I said. I showed him my fake boarding pass. “I need to get to Washington quickly,” I added. He asked me if I had any other identification. I showed him a credit card with my name on it, a library card, and a health-insurance card. “Nothing else?” he asked.

“No,” I said.

“You should really travel with a second picture ID, you know.”

“Yes, sir,” I said.

“All right, you can go,” he said, pointing me to the X-ray line. “But let this be a lesson for you.”

 

I encourage you to go and read the whole thing, it will make you shake your head in wonder at the level of sheer stupidity behind this sort of pointless busywork designed to make us think they are actually doing something about our safety.

Short Story Terrorism

At risk of revisiting a recent school safety topic, here’s one that doesn’t involve guns of any sort, but rather a much more dangerous weapon:  words.  A high school kid writes a story about zombies taking over a high school.  Sounds harmless (and it is), but apparently police didn’t think so.  They arrested him and are charging him with a “second-degree felony terrorist threatening charge”.  

Even better?  His grandparents narced on him when they found the story in his journal!

Now that’s a loving family.  Man, do I feel safe, getting that kid off the streets.  Just the thought of that freak, writing away in his journal, crafting short stories with his imagination instead of playing video games for hours or drinking beer like a good teenager should, it gives me the chills.  What other trouble would he have gotten into if his sweet little old Nana hadn’t dropped a dime on his skinny butt?  

The only thing I have to say is:  that must be one facking fantastic story to get him thrown into jail at the tender age of 18.  It must be absolutely bone-chillingly terrifying to warrant a terrorism charge.  It must really take horror to a new level to be detained like this, even the act of reading it makes your hair turn white and your skin take on a ghastly pallor.  The very existence of this story keeps the FBI up at night.  It must because the author is charged with terrorism, right?

This kid definitely has a future in writing.  Unless he ends up at Gitmo of course.