I don’t understand you sometimes. But I like you, and wish you well, all the same.
Image found at LOLSnaps. Origin unknown.
Perhaps the greatest thing I have ever seen — wrapping paper that rickrolls. And just in time for Christmas.
(Muande Lake, by Xavier Jamonet)
A map of the United States … according to AutoComplete.
Republicans are not wasting any time. It would appear that scientific inquiry in the United States is already under attack.
These are hard times in which to be a frequent flyer — it seems that everybody is trying to make the experience as difficult as possible. On one side are the airlines, who are busy cutting costs and coming up with brilliant ideas like forcing people to pay to side beside one another, or charging to use the toilet.
The other side seemingly at war with customers are those in charge of their safety — taking as intrusive an approach as possible to ensuring security on board the aircraft. People have decided to blow up planes using liquids, so you are not allowed to bring a bottle of water (or mouthwash) on the plane with you. People have attempted to blow up an airplane using their shoes, so you must now remove your shoes for a scan prior to boarding.
And so it goes. The terrorists come up with a new idea, passengers are hit with a new hurdle they must cross before boarding an airplane.
So it comes as new surprise that following this latest attempt, there are new rules that must be followed. Before we get to those, however, let’s recap:
1. On Christmas day, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab of Nigeria attempted to blow up a plane just prior to landing in Detroit, Michigan.
2. Some time before that, Mr. Abdulmutallab’s father warned the U.S. government that his son might do some terrorism. Blow up a plane, or something.
3. Mr. Abdulmutallab’s attempt involved the lighting of explosives that he had (it is believed) moulded to his body and hidden in his underpants.
4. Prior to his attempt, Mr. Abdulmutallab used the toilet.
Our (admittedly untrained) minds here at the Big Bad Blog have our attention drawn to points two and three. Specifically, why was the information provided by the young man’s father ignored? And how can we catch those smuggling aboard explosives in the manner described?
Points one and four are the sort of thing a nervous person would do prior to something big that is making them nervous. Emptying the bladder prior, and — as likely as anything else — procrastinating until the last possible moment before carrying out the plan. Given that it seems natural that blowing one’s self up would be cause for nerves, and passenger reports make him sound nervous, this seems more likely than attributing the timing of the attempt (and bathroom trip) to being part of Mr. Abdulmutallab’s nefarious scheme.
The Transport Security Agency (TSA) of the United States’ (admitted highly trained) minds look at points one and four. Specifically that the attempt was at the end of the flight, and the man used the toilet first.
Air Canada has reported (and BoingBoing confirmed in a first-hand account) that new security requirements have passengers confined to their seats for the final hour of the flight, during which they are not permitted to access their carry-on luggage or have anything in their laps. Neither of which, it is noted, would have stopped this most recent terrorist — even if he did something in the bathroom, he would just have to have done it a few minutes earlier.
Even if we take it as given that Mr. Abdulmutallab waited until the plane was in United States airspace, and then checked his explosive device before attempting to detonate it, neither of these facts — nor the reaction to them — are terribly pertinent to the preventative measures that are aimed to prevent the repetition of these events. Double-checking can be done at any point throughout the flight, and Mr. Abdulmutallab did not need access to his carry-on luggage in order to carry out his attack.
All in all, the (admittedly highly trained) anti-terrorist minds at the TSA have decided that the problem is customer access to the bathroom (still available during the rest of the flight), and the presence of magazines in passenger’s laps. In short, they are using this attempt as nothing but a pretense to slap extra restrictions on passengers, without any apparent benefit.
The correct course of action for the TSA should be invisible from the passenger’s viewpoint. Maybe a few more pat-downs (which may or may not have helped find moulded-to-the-body, sewn-in-the-underwear explosives), and certainly a more in depth look at those few people whose parents have called the United States government and said “my son’s a terrorist.”
In fact, we at the Big Bad Blog think that not allowing such people on an airplane without full scrutiny (and a complete search) is the irresponsible behaviour which resulted in this incident. Extra restrictions do not help. Listening to warnings and behaving with appropriate caution might.
An editor at Investor’s Business Daily has wrote an editorial bashing the plans for a government-run healthcare plan in the United States. Originally included in the article (which has since been edited) was the following paragraph:
People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.
Hawking, of course, is British, and has lived and worked in the UK for his entire life.
The paragraph has since been removed from the editorial, with the following note:
Editor’s Note: This version corrects the original editorial which implied that physicist Stephen Hawking, a professor at the University of Cambridge, did not live in the UK.
Luckily the folks at Dispatches from the Culture Wars found it, and cut-and-pasted the text for posterity.
The tenor of the article is unchanged following the editing. Despite realising that there is evidence to the contrary, it continues to argue that a person such as Stephen Hawking would not receive the health care he needs under a British-style system of healthcare. Removing the specific Hawking reference does not change the fact that the arguments being made are blatantly untrue, with Hawking as an excellent counter-example.
Listening to the health care argument in the United States is quite painful. The Republicans are clearly not fans, but refuse to come out and say why. They believe that government should be less involved in people’s day-to-day lives, not more. They believe that people selling and buying services are better off working out the logistics themselves, and that it will produce a better result than interference might.
In the midst of a recession brought about by unchecked free-market forces, however, they feel it is politically unwise to express such views in public. So instead, they fabricate other arguments — lies, if you will — in an effort to bring about results which are based on the above-mentioned beliefs.
Those opposed to health care reform in the United States should have their opinions respected, not mocked. In order to do that, they need to share their opinions so an open and honest debate can take place. Intellectually dishonest arguments which fly in the face of observable truth will continue to be met with disdain.