Airline security is the last refuge of the scoundrel

November 27, 2009 9 comments

I love aviation. Genuinely, I really enjoy flying in a plane… well, the first eight hours, after that I get a bit bored. If Boeing and Rolls-Royce hadn’t made the 747-400, then I’d be happier (BA’s flagship flight in 1984 was London-Bombay-Madras-Singapore-Perth-Sydney. That strikes me as far more fun than London-Singapore-Sydney, especially if you stop off for 24 hours till the next flight everywhere en route…).

One of the many things that I love about aviation is how exceptionally safe it is. Not just safe from accidental death or injury, although it is, but also safe from crime of all kinds.

…and this is why, as someone who is obliged to fly an awful lot, I hate the scaremongers, bureaucrats and right-w(h)ingers who’ve turned it from a jolly and harmless experience into an exercise in annoyance and humiliation.

From a comment I’ve just made elsewhere, aimed at a worthless idiot [*]:

When I go to an airport, my first experience is with the jolly character on bag-drop, who’s employed by the company I’ve paid for my flight, who treats me with respect and who I repect. My third experience is in the lounge, where I get treated with respect and where I respect the staff.

However, the second experience, and the one which makes aviation-in-general vile, is with a bunch of utter twats employed by BAA/some goverment twattery to pretend that plane-terrorism is relevant, who don’t give a monkey’s about the people paying their wages, because they’re under some kind of insane delusion that their job involves something other than being nice to the people who you deal with.

And it’s made significantly more distressing by the fact that – because you and your lot have no power or chance of success in real life – we actually have to defer to you and treat you like gods in aeroplane life. “Oh, my airline security hero. I can’t believe I committed the heinous sin of smuggling 125ml of aftershave through your holy checkpoint. If I effuse myself at your feet will you please not send me to the back of the queue?”. So even though we know the whole rigmarole is completely useless – and either so do you, or you’re sufficiently idiotic to be subject for remedial treatment – we still have to pretend that you deserve respect.

(I’m struggling to think of people who demand, literally at gunpoint, respect from those who they’re subjugating solely using their power. Muggers and rapists are the only ones I can think of; perhaps our readers are more imaginative?)

Bonus points to the first idiot to lie that terrorism is a serious concern, rather than something made up to annoy us [**].

[*] yes, like a boncentration bamp buard, he was just doing his shitty, worthless job.

[**] a good friend of mine found himself in Boston Airport in 2002. There was a sign up saying “it is illegal to mock the security arrangements in this airport”. If you actually feel you have to to make mockery illegal, then you’re the loser and I’m on the other guy’s side. See also “Tango and contact lens solution can make a bomb“. Yes, the chaps who tried to make a bomb of Tango and Alcon are bad, but no different from a witch-doctor trying to make me die with curses and evil eyes…

Collation of thoughts

November 25, 2009 Leave a comment

I’ve got a new post up on LC. I don’t post enough on LC; I should post more on LC. See also: posts here.

I’ve had some positive comments on the LC post from people I respect, both over there and on Twitter. Given that unlike my usual LC work, this wasn’t a ‘using hard data to bust myths’ article but just a ‘thought-dump in something vaguely resembling readable English because we needed someone to write something quick-sharp’ article, this was quite pleasing. At least, until I remembered that “reasonable opinions in readable English” don’t win columnist gigs…

Anyway. In response to the comments on the LC piece, I came up with a couple of digressions that I thought were worth repeating here:

Not that the US is liberal, but there is a generally understood rights+votes model of governance called ‘liberal democracy’, which pretty much consists of (US + EU + might-as-well-be-EU-but-don’t-want-to-lose-their-fish/oil/gold + trying to be EU + Commonwealth), but which doesn’t encompass everywhere that has the occasional vote to choose which dictator will torture you on a whim.

(yes, South America is a mild exception, but ‘if you stop voting in right-wing dictators then secret agents from a Liberal Democracy will turn up and assassinate people until you start again’ deals with that one).

Also, why (ideological aims aside), even though the current crop of Labour MPs appear to be worse at Parliament’s legislative duties than their Tory and Lib Dem counterparts, this is structural more than anything else:

If you’re a Tory MP in the current parliament, you’ve either been there forever, or you’ve managed to land a safe seat by serious politicing in the wilderness years when others were busy management-consulting, PR-ing, etc. If you’re a Lib Dem MP in any parliament, you’ve either been a Liberal since Gladstone, you’ve managed to land an incumbent-if-hardly-safe LD seat through serious politicing throughout, or you’ve been selected for a by-election to show the nation that the Lib Dems are Serious People.

On the other hand, while a lot of long-serving Labour MPs live up to the duties expected of them (my MP, Jeremy Corbyn, is so good at this that I’m going to vote for him next time despite my utter distaste for the national party – because there is absolutely no way that anyone else standing in Islington North will be a greater asset to Parliament than him. This is how you, dear reader, should choose your MP. Similarly, when my MP was Beverly Hughes, I didn’t vote for her even though at the time I supported the national government), most of the 1997 intake were daft hacks who didn’t even expect they’d get in, and most of the subsequent intakes have been subservient hangers-on.

Hence, it’s pretty much certain that after the next election, in terms of general competence and respect for parliamentary procedure rather than sheer political allegiance, that there’ll be an awful lot more dreadful Tory MPs than now, and that there’ll be far fewer dreadful Labour MPs.

What I’ve been up to, week ending 2009-11-22

November 22, 2009 1 comment
  • Slightly late to #PaulClarke – as far as I can see, everyone did their job except the jury, who are scum and need crucified. #
  • That's not quite fair – clearly whoever pressed charges is an arse, but this is exactly the kind of case that juries are for. #
  • Oh no: Ewar Woowar is ea! #
  • RT @duckorange No funeral for poor, dead Edward Woodward. They're just going to burn him in a wicker man. It's what he would have wanted. #
  • Hurrah, Ewar Woowar is a trending topic #
  • World O' Irony: @pennyred accuses HP of bullying witch-huntery; HP responds with a bullying witch-hunt: http://bit.ly/4ygyGy #
  • *sigh* – having rejected plans to make LHR useable, the Tories push their BANANA credentials still further: http://tinyurl.com/yjumace #
  • AD SALESMEN: if you work for http://www.ship-technology.com, be very careful to enunciate your company's name properly #toptips #
  • RT @Oedipus_Lex After a wonderful weekend of lunacy I'm not sure I can face the office tomorrow <- I wonder if he realises it's Monday night #
  • Damn right RT @mrpower We need laws to protect innocent press victims while celebs and others who live by media shld sort it out themselves #
  • RT @gilescoren YESSSSS OKAY! I used to be on [The F Word]. But NOW it's for cunts! <- #dothprotesttoomuch #
  • Encountered touts for this gig http://bit.ly/2s3MIa at Kentish Town on way home yesterday – had to quickly check it wasn't 1993 #
  • In other news, #Nirvana to reform with bloke from Silverchair as lead singer #
  • Yup, in worst retail recession ever I'm *sure* new premises hard to find, and this isn't just compo-chasing excusery: http://bit.ly/3gl4ym #
  • In approximately one day I'm expecting my 227th follower #bandparty #
  • HAHA, #bandparty comes early. Thankyou, @weaselbacon #
  • Thanks to @steff631, sorry for compo-related dissing of Dean St shopkeepers: 3 months is quite rubbish notice and might bugger small cos #
  • Dog whistle blown, Mail readers respond (see comments): http://bit.ly/7bg37 – via @tabloidwatch #
  • Lesson from Deanstreetgate: next time I'm in a café that's scheduled to be knocked down for a Grand Projet, I'll tell them just in case… #
  • RT @OtherTPA: New post: TaxPayers' Alliance – experts on child abuse, sentencing, plumbing http://bit.ly/3KiLhk #
  • Sad to see @newscientist churnalising misleading 'oooh, the children' PR from charlatan Jim Gamble: http://bit.ly/2pOBrZ #
  • Sure, it's always easy to be a sneering libertarian – but I'm struggling to disagree with Mark Wadsworth on this one: http://bit.ly/1s7eeI #
  • Now the bloody Grauniad is giving space to notorious charlatan Jim Gamble to push his nonsense http://bit.ly/47Z1SV #grrr #
  • …although commenter SD1000 wins the thread, with 100% Depressing 100% Truth: http://bit.ly/1raGie #
  • Meanwhile, an entirely sensible Guardian piece on prostitution – great antidote to horrific McShane-ery http://bit.ly/DbSCx #
  • RT @sun Good night London! I will be back in 15 hours, 22 minutes <- #depressing #bloodywinter #
  • Haha, @themanwhofell has the right take on the current copyright-hysteria-over-nowt Twitscarefest: http://twitpic.com/q44ac #doctorowisatwat #
  • Great @Heresy_Corner piece on how a clampdown on driving would do us all good, global warming or no: http://bit.ly/145nOJ #
  • N London has a blue plaque on every wall saying someone lived
    there; S London has a yellow sign on every corner saying someone
    died there #
  • RT @Glinner: The Sikh guy in the BNP must be getting sick of putting shit through his own letterbox #
  • baby and its owners successfully dispatched; now drinking with single 30something reproductive failures. feel less inadequate. #

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Dumbing down

November 19, 2009 5 comments

If “Michael Gove gets his arse handed to him on a plate” is a tag you like the sound of, you’ll enjoy this clip from Parliament:

(via Sam Coates Not The Tory)

15% of people inexplicably weird

November 18, 2009 9 comments

Rather depressingly:

Fifty-six per cent of the public agree that “the greatest victims of discrimination in Britain these days are often ordinary white men”

Now, this is obviously false, and anyone who believes it is either deluded, moronic or both. If you’re a selfish white male, however, it’s at least rational to express the belief in the hope that if the myth becomes accepted, it’ll be easier for you to maintain your privileges.

However, only 41% of the population are white British males. So, even assuming that all white males are either selfish or idiots, 15% of the remaining population are so brainwashed that they actually believe this nonsense against their own best interests.

Which is pretty much as clear a demonstration as you’re going to get anywhere that The Patriarchy is still thoroughly in charge and thoroughly shaping political and news agendas.

Ah well. On the plus side, whilst it’d be nice to live in a fair and equal society where attempts to address injustice weren’t met with ridiculous whining from the privileged that conned a sizeable proportion of the oppressed, at least the current setup makes my life easier and more comfortable…

(via Liberal Conspiracy, which points out that at least Twitter users are less halfwitted and bigoted than average. Well, duh.)

What I’ve been up to, week ending 2009-11-15

November 15, 2009 Leave a comment
  • I've been feeling thoroughly ill all day… but am delighted to note that, unlike @robbrydon, I don't now have to go and talk to C Moyles #
  • RT @olibeale If I was James Earl Jones i'd walk aroung all day singing "I'm James Earl Jones and I like it" to the tune of "I kissed a girl" #
  • RT @paulkerensa Please retweet this. Thanks. #
  • RT @Andrew_Taylor Reading "Internet Marketing For Children". It's pretty good apart from all the pop-ups. (via @bloggerheads) #
  • Hurrah: an opportunity at LC to link to Peter Singer's superb article, Taking Life: http://bit.ly/12KIdu #
  • Simon Carr is hit-and-miss. This piece is a HIT: http://bit.ly/3NT8Ze #
  • Extremely glad I watched the excellent Starter for Ten and not the horrific pop-paedo-lynch-mob show #
  • Incidentally, tried Um Bongo at the weekend for the first time in 20 years. It were rubbish. #
  • And as @duckorange will confirm, it's consumed widely neither in the DRC nor in Congo-Brazzaville. #
  • Insert proverb about houses and plagues – horrible racist bigots smear Respect loonies: http://bit.ly/1TPOZ2 (via @thedancingflea) #
  • RT @rhodri Murdoch said to be furious the BBC are quoting him. "They're my words," he said, "out of my mouth. I own them. They must pay." #
  • RT @rhodri Everyone who's retweeting my comment about Rupert Murdoch owes me £1.32. I take cash, Paypal and sexual favours. #
  • Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit! – http://tinyurl.com/ygra75z #
  • Collapse of Northern Rock due to Adam Applegarth's shaved head (which was Germaine Greer's fault), says Quentin Letts: http://bit.ly/1k4iAK #
  • Right, next time I murder someone I'm using a spiked club #jackstraw #knifecrime #patheticpopulistbollocks #
  • Cos *obviously* someone who stabs a bloke in a fight is *far* worse than this specimen: http://bit.ly/UYSil #stupidknifelaws #
  • I love British culture viewed from abroad: http://bit.ly/3tWGyq – 'send knives' is both in-joke and genius #
  • I'm struggling to think of anything more pathetic than a comedian trying to prevent people from telling his jokes http://bit.ly/43WY5g #
  • Today was good. Well, it mostly involved feeling like grim cold-ish death, but overall it was good nonetheless. Positive. #
  • I feel guilty about following Adam Curtis's blog, but not actually reading of his erudite posts because they're too bloody long #yesamhick #
  • Now gonna read Girl Who Played With Fire. Looking 4ward to it after the last one: Lisbeth reminds me of everyone I've ever been in love with #
  • …but crazier & skinner NOTE: these are not necessarily positives #
  • Must get up… MUST GET UP… #
  • I know it's the Scum, but I still can't believe their "stitching up David Nutt's kids" article. Dominic Mohan should be chopped into pieces #
  • Rum: the king of spirits. So good, I'm not even hungover yet. "Yet" is important. #
  • RT @TheQuill: Put a mexican moustache on Katie Price and *bang* it's Nick Cave. Discuss. (via @glinner) #

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What I’ve been up to, week ending 2009-11-08

November 8, 2009 Leave a comment
  • is now departing Chhatrapati Shivaji International on Jet Airways (India) Powered by Lufthansa – http://myskystatus.com/ #
  • Comment WIN: "Melanie Phillips would accuse her husband of anti-semitism if he didn't do the dishes on time" http://bit.ly/1j1DHn #
  • RT @dontgetfooled Monbiot on the crucial, oft-misunderstood, distinction between being a skeptic and being a sucker: http://bit.ly/f79s5 #
  • New weapon in war on terror: BEARS! http://bit.ly/2G5tui #
  • Things I'm enjoying this evening: @fakeapstylebook, and @nosemonkey's post-Lisbon apocalyptica #
  • Apparently Apple have launched the iPhone in China for usd1000 with no wifi. That's, erm, heroic #
  • Can't believe eejits in India still boycotting #Dow, which bought Union Carbide's assets years after the Bhopal disaster: http://tr.im/E5uV #
  • Yes, I know BNSF is freight RT @gilescoren Warren Buffett has spent $34bn on a railway company. So EVERY carriage will be a buffett carriage #
  • "I've no clue what Network Solutions does or how domain names work, but that won't stop me writing about them" http://tinyurl.com/yl8d9ez #
  • "The white working class have very real concerns" #thingsracistssay #
  • EUrabia. Dhimmitude. The Gates Of Vienna. Islamofascist #thingsracistssay #
  • RT @duckorange #thingsracistssay "Gordon Clown's ZaNu LieBore Broken Britain" #
  • RT @averyps "Why can't we have a white officers' police association? Where's the Music of White Origin awards?" #thingsracistssay #
  • This could, and should, be the basis for a new reality TV show: http://bit.ly/1mXEm9 #
  • In vile mood. Got to get up at 5am for a flight, it's almost 10pm now and 2 hours before I can finish work *scowl* #
  • Racing down unfinished road at 6am on 4h sleep: not good. Home in 12 hours: 'king AWESOME #
  • Pissing on poppies poor show, but *jail*? http://bit.ly/viivC Isn't that the sort of thing we were fighting against…? #
  • is now departing Chennai Airport on British Airways Powered by Lufthansa – http://myskystatus.com/ #
  • BACK IN DA UK. Contemplating checking the microphone, but probably won't. #
  • sheer genius – RT @fakeapstylebook To describe more than one octopus, use sixteentopus, twentyfourtopus, thirtytwotopus, and so on. #
  • I'd sooner burn an actual Damian Thompson: http://is.gd/4O2hE (via @dontgetfooled) #
  • I've signed up, have you? http://www.greateudebate.com/order/ – I'm especially looking forward to forewords by T Kavanagh and F Forsyth… #
  • Do people who use terms like AmeriKKKa or the EUSSR really not understand how stupid it makes them look? Or just don't care…? #
  • Struggling to see why Merrick upset re S Mann – http://bit.ly/2KEN1N – Eq Guinea one of Africa's vilest regimes, so no biggie if overthrown #
  • If he'd been overthrowing an (even vaguely) democratic or liberal government, *that* would actually matter #
  • jetlag, evil hangover *and* a cold. thanks, fate, for bestowing these all on me simultaneously. #
  • wanna go home, but scared of the cold and the tube… #
  • (that's temperature-cold, not aforementioned ill-cold. although latter probably a factor in fear of former) #
  • Thanks, rememberance, etc, to those who fought to save us in WW2 #
  • …and entire 'meh' to those who were paid to do pointless and irrelevant fighting subsequently #
  • Nick Cohen article *epitomises* the unthinking, economically illiterate side of lefty thought: http://bit.ly/2eVK0we #
  • Irrelevant crap about Glass-Steagall? CHECK. Quote from egregious Richard Murphy? CHECK. #
  • I feel *sorry* for ww1 victims, but not *grateful* as whole shebang entirely pointless #
  • Oops, Cohen piece should be http://bit.ly/2eVK0w #
  • RT @ismitim: On twitter "Social media guru" is code for guy that pretends he's a 15 y/o girl on myspace (via @chrissiem) #
  • On Cohen piece, didn't mean to imply all lefty economic thought illiterate – rather, there is a particular strain that it exemplifies #
  • …and while Cohen is a tit, it's hard to deny that he's left-ish rather than right-ish. #
  • Piece daft because: 1) Glass-Steagall has 0 bearing on current crisis (most banks that failed were pure i-banks or pure retail banks) #
  • 2) R Murphy's research mostly hokey nonsense; 3) whole piece an attempt to exculpate craven politicians through whataboutery #

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Dear web developers

November 3, 2009 5 comments

In tabbed browsers, clicking a link with the middle button opens the link you’ve clicked in a new tab. This is a useful piece of functionality.

If you set your web page up to get round this feature, so that clicking the middle button opens the link in the same tab as the page you’re viewing, that doesn’t make you a clever web guru. It makes you a fecking idiot.

Commentisfree, Microsoft Outlook Web Access, Twitter – this means you.

Imaginary, err I mean intellectual, property

November 2, 2009 4 comments

This is a fine comment:

“I own a sofa. I can arrange the cushions on it in any pattern I like; if I couldn’t it would reduce my rights to my property. I also own a hard disk, and I can arrange the magnetic alignments on it in any pattern I like; if I couldn’t it would reduce my rights to my property. So to the extent that you believe in rights to real property, you cannot also believe in rights to imaginary property.”

The concept of IP-as-property (and hence, of copyright infringement as theft) is a ridiculous fiction: copyright is nothing more than a monopoly on the production of a particular product or service granted by the government to a particular individual or business, in theory because the government believes that the incentivising effect of granting the monopoly outweighs the loss of freedom and utility caused by granting the monopoly.

In other words, it’s as far from libertarianism as you can get: if you support IP laws [*], that shows that you think a) that there are areas where deliberate government planning produces better results than the free market; b) where this is the case, it’s right to reduce people’s freedom for the greater good; and c) the production of plans, inventions, blueprints and artworks is a situation where this is the case.

[*] As a believer in a mixed economy, I do support IP laws and have no intellectual difficulty with the argument above, although I’d prefer penalties for infringement to be smaller and solely civil, and for all copyrights and patents to expire 5-20 years after creation (depending on content type). Curiously though, many of the people who argue for tough IP laws generally argue against government interference in business.

What I’ve been up to, week ending 2009-11-01

November 1, 2009 3 comments
  • A good piece on sensible-debate versus actual-politics from Andrew R, based on real science: http://bit.ly/14vR5W #
  • Remote nowhere was excellent, incidentally. All foreign phone roaming disabled, so absolutely no outside-worldery impinging on anything. #
  • Not a huge J Carr fan, but he's right here (and funny) and his critics are idiots: http://bit.ly/3PlBgp #
  • S Fry leaving twitter is 3rd-top story on BBC. Say *what*? #
  • /What the hell motivates climate change denialistidiots? Is it just blind contrarianism, or do they actually *want* to destroy the world #
  • I wish the right-wing party set to win the next election was made up of Economist writers, instead of idiots: http://bit.ly/3m18xu #
  • Things I dislike, from either side of the political spectrum: the casual equation of "feminist" and "puritan". e.g. http://bit.ly/2arVvy #

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