Re: Not As Impressive, But We Made Fruitcake

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If you can't carry a fruitcake through airport security, the terrorists may have their good points. (I kid. I'm sure they are great.)


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:43 AM
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That's a sturdy table.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:50 AM
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Considering that each of those fruitcakes weighs more than a Smart Car, sure is.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:54 AM
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Probably do better head-on against an SUV than a Smart Car also.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:02 AM
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4: Not necessarily.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:10 AM
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I really love fruitcake, aside from really dire versions with glaceed cherries in sawdusty batter, which I feel quite sure yours are not. Fruitcake!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:15 AM
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Homophobe.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:18 AM
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Merry Christmas, everyone!


Posted by: Pauly Shore | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:26 AM
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Those look fantastic! Yummm.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:40 AM
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Mmm. Fruitcake. Lots of people don't like fruitcake, but I love it.


Posted by: Pauly Shore | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:44 AM
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Those are beautiful. (What's up with the one in the front?)

Would you care to share your fruitcake recipe LB? Every year around Christmas I remember that I had meant to make a fruitcake, and by then it's too late. But if I start now, I could conceivably have one ready by Christmas, right?


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:59 AM
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Nom. Fruitcake occupies this weird space in my theoretical gustatory life. I'm almost sure I've never had it, or if I did, I was a kid and don't remember, so 1) I don't know if I like it but 2) I missed having the kind of PTSD (Pseasonal Torte Stress Disorder) most people seem to have, so I'm always all "wait fruitcake sounds really good" which prompts violent dissent instead of people going "oh hey, yeah, we should go have fruitcake sometime, at the fruitcake place."


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:00 AM
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I like fruitcake, just like Pauly. It is just very important to eat it in small quantities.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:05 AM
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But did you made more than 8 lbs, 8 oz of fruitcake? If so, I am suitably impressed.

Really, those are gorgeous.


Posted by: wrenae | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:07 AM
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...my theoretical gustatory life.

That's where I'm a Viking! I could, subject to various conditions, eat fugu with Batman in Piz Gloria.

Don't judge me.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:08 AM
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Anybody else ever read that Truman Capote short story ("A Christmas Memory", maybe?) about making fruitcakes. That was depressing.

Contra LB's modesty, if she really gestated all of those fruitcakes in her womb, then I find that way more impressive than the Geebie's boring ole' infant.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:10 AM
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Why wouldn't it go through security? Is the fondant considered a liquid?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:13 AM
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I also desire a fruitcake receipt.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:21 AM
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15: Way, way more than 8 lbs of fruitcake there. That's some heavy fruitcake.

11: Not actually my recipe -- the fruitcakes are Buck's thing. I just make the fondant to seal them in, and get green foodcoloring stuck under my fingernails doing holly leaves. I'll see if I can wangle the recipe out of him: he starts from some source, and then improvises. Lots of cardamom this year. (The one in front suffered total fondant failure in the covering process, and needed busier decoration to draw the eye away from the big cracks. It goes to the co-op holiday party.)

18: The unfortunate resemblance, visually, texturally, and chemically, to festively holiday decorated C4.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:22 AM
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It goes to the co-op holiday party

Hey! Why does the co-op get the messy one?!

Kidding. I don't think I've ever seen fruitcake entirely covered in frosting fondant; usually just drizzled. I'd like to have seen a cross-section, i.e. a slice. What kind of food blog is this? I ask you.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:32 AM
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I don't think I've ever seen fruitcake entirely covered in frosting fondant; usually just drizzled.

It's a preservative thing -- holds in moisture.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:38 AM
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Also: I'm potentially in the market for making food style holiday gifts (that will travel) this year. Sweets are unfortunately not my forte, but they seem most popular. Some kind of toffee, with pecans or something, seems to dominate the cookbooks I've consulted, albeit in desultory manner so far. But I may need a candy thermometer for that.

Maybe just cookies -- ginger snaps or something -- though that seems mundane.

Personalizing food gifts (in the sense of playing to one's own culinary strengths) seems preferable, which in my case would mean something savory and/or something relatively healthful. Somehow I doubt people will be thrilled with homemade pesto or granola, however.

(/ramble)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:45 AM
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21: Ah. Of course.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:46 AM
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18: I don't know from what the Breaths' use, but the Pongo-Dorans have had decent luck with this one in the past (we substitute weeks of drizzling for the couple of days of misting; it's not real fruitcake if a small piece doesn't get you a little drunk). Last year we under cooked it and had to throw a good chunk away, and that which remained wasn't as good as we wanted it to be. That was sad.


Posted by: Jimmy Pongo | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:48 AM
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I'm potentially in the market for making food style holiday gifts (that will travel) this year.

Perhaps too simple, but I'm a big fan of giving vanilla sugar for a small gift. Put a vanilla bean in a little jar of sugar now, and it will be vanilla-y enough by Christmas. Decorate your jar with a homemade label, and voila!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:48 AM
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The internet offers other ideas for fancy doctored-up sugars as well. Cinnamon cardamom sugar, anyone?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:50 AM
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Chocolate-dipped candied orange peel.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:51 AM
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27: We have a batch of candied orange peel ready to go, and will no doubt make another before the season is up.

Savory gifts are trickier, because you have to know the tastes of the person you're giving them to more than with sweet ones. Round here, you will earn eternal gratitude in some quarters for delivering the dilly beans. Other people (or perhaps some of the same people) will give you the quizical squinty smile if you try and present them with a homemade chutney.


Posted by: Jimmy Pongo | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:57 AM
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The Capote story is a Christmas standard for my family. We also read what I believe is a Thurber story about a guest who amends all the tags on the presents to include his name as a gift giver ("and William").

Oh, and I LOVE fruitcake.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:59 AM
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LB, how is your fondant? I'd become convinced that fondant was used exclusively for its architectural properties (and yours always looks gorgeous) until I had some made by the Cake Boss and learned it could be delicious as well.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 11:00 AM
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16, 29:
The NPR station round here broadcasts Capote's reading of his "A Christmas Memory" story every year on Christmas Day. It took me several years of hearing it to catch on to all of what was going on in the relationship between Buddy and his aunt.


Posted by: Jimmy Pongo | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 11:10 AM
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30: Inoffensive, I think, but not delicious. It's slightly lemon flavored, but mostly just chewy sugar.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 11:19 AM
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25, 27: Both sound interesting -- and chocolate-dipped candied orange peel sounds freakin' divine -- but the family members in question have to be taken into account. Most are full up with kids under 10 years old, busy as hell and financially stressed, and I'm wanting something that appeals to these cousins (the parents) as well as their kids, and doesn't overly sweet-tooth the kids. They can take it home and have a big smile as they dip into over the next week as they get ready for school or work, or after supper while they do homework or laundry. Down-home kind of people.

(I'm secretly rooting for granola. I can make me some granola! Awesome!)

28: the quizical squinty smile if you try and present them with a homemade chutney

Ha. Yeah.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 11:23 AM
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Delicious may have been too strong of a word, but it was definitely a pleasant surprise.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 11:47 AM
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No doubt I'm commenting too much, but I've just been recalling the favorite holiday food gifts of my experience:

- my aunt traditionally made homemade fudge: a chocolate and a peanut butter (which we called pinoche (sp)), both with walnuts. I have the recipes somewhere. Sugar and butter overload, of course, but tradition! The extended family has gradually fallen off its enthusiasm, though: too sweet, not very good for you.

- the matriarch of the family I spent Thanksgiving with traditionally makes, of all things, a Chex Mix, with various mixed nuts (peanuts, cashews, brazil nuts, etc.) intermixed. It's terrific. I mean, people fight each other over this stuff, and it disappears very quickly.

- my mom had started in the past few years having a case of assorted oranges, tangerines, and grapefruits shipped at holiday time to family. Or maybe just to me. I adored this. A large box of citrus fruit arriving at your door in mid-December. I love you, mom.

I recall Standpipe saying that he or she likes to receive a traditional jar of .. was it M&Ms? And looks forward to it every year. I would like to establish something like that that I give.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 11:49 AM
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The internet offers other ideas for fancy doctored-up sugars as well.

1. Buy a Butterfinger® bar.
2. Nom the chocolate exterior completely off, leaving intact the orange part.
3. Dip in chocolate.

It's personalized, plus you got to eat some chocolate and maybe a few orange flaky parts!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 12:28 PM
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By the way I hate to say it, but if unfogged ever becomes interested in politics again, that would be interesting.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 1:24 PM
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I know, and I feel the same way. I'm just not successfully looking at the news and coming up with any sort of comment on it that seems even remotely productive. So it's fruitcake until I think of something political.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 1:38 PM
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have had decent luck with this one

Oh, that does look good. I've never made fruitcake before, but that is tempting. I'm not much of a baker, but that looked like the baking portions are relatively foolproof.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 1:39 PM
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37 & 38: Julian Assange: History's greatest monster, or just in need of better hair conditioner?


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 1:42 PM
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This post reminds me that it's nut-candy-making time. It's also the season for offering me things I want in exchange for nut candy.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 1:47 PM
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It's also the season for offering me things I want in exchange for nut candy.

IYKWIMAITYD.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 1:52 PM
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38: Understood. I just wrote something completely helpless elsewhere. It's almost impossible to say anything, yes, productive or helpful. Dire straits. It's not funny.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 1:54 PM
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Sorry for the boo-sounding comment. Carry on!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 1:56 PM
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nut candy
Presumably, the male version of vajazzling.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 1:58 PM
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It's also the season for offering me things I want in exchange for nut candy.

If you tell me what you want, maybe I can bring some of what you want to Los Angeles, if you bring nut candy to Los Angeles.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 2:05 PM
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If we had some ham, we could have some ham and eggs, if we had some eggs.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 2:06 PM
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If I had a boat, I would ride my pony on my boat, if I had a pony.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 2:07 PM
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If I had a donkey, I would beat it, if I were a farmer.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 2:08 PM
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If I only had a match.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 2:08 PM
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If you only had a match, you'd have nowhere to strike it.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 2:09 PM
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If only the Senate Internet had a single neck.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 2:12 PM
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46: Quince jam? Or some suchlike thing?


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 2:15 PM
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Will you be checking bags?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 2:17 PM
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40 What those Wiki dumps need is a bunch of historians working full time taking notes, and writing up their takes on the mindsets and broad policy trends in the US military, intelligence and diplomatic communities. What we have is a bunch of bottom level newspaper employees skimming them for headline worthy 'gotcha' information.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 2:27 PM
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If I Had a Rocket Launcher, I would hesitate, if I could vacillate.


Posted by: OPINIONATED BRUCE COCKBURN | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 3:18 PM
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55: I wouldn't mind hearing a bit less about "we're big tough guys and we're going to rough up the whistleblowers who gave this stuff to the nerdy foreigners" and a little more about whether the failure of the apocalypse to arrive in the wake of multiple Wikileaks releases could be taken as evidence that the U.S., like many governments, overclassifies things.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 3:20 PM
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55: write a grant proposal to the EU!


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 3:23 PM
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Oh, speaking of feeling bad about humanity: ABC has white male / black male / white female actors flagrantly try to "steal" a locked bike in broad daylight. Guess what happens?

I lost my bike key a few months ago, and carried my wheel-locked bike to a bike shop on the streetcar. Nobody paid me much attention, though I've heard bike theft is a serious problem around here (and I only paid €40 for my used bike, which seems a bit sketchy). I do wonder what would have happened if I'd been Turkish-looking...


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 3:28 PM
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My favorite bit of the Wikileaks reporting was a guy on TV who spent a long time talking about how horribly destructive the leak will be and then mentioned that the Pentagon has started a campaign to respond to the leaks. I was like, dude, did you ever think that maybe you're part of it?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 3:43 PM
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Unfortunately the people in my television set never respond to my queries.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 3:43 PM
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I don't know if it's fair to say it's bottom level newspaper employees that are reading these cables; I think that the Guardian is putting the best people going on it, as is Le Monde, Der Speigel, and the New York Times.

And yes, they are looking through for headlines; anybody looking though over the next day or two will be, purely because to come up with anything more than that will take weeks. And I think it is rather interesting to know that, say, Saudi Arabia wanted action against Iran.

(By the way, it is interesting that it's the Guardian & not the Times in that list --- the Guardian really has made a strong bid for paper of record over the past decade.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 4:15 PM
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62: One of those headlines (in the NYT) is "U.S. Expands Role of Diplomats in Spying". File under: What could possibly go wrong?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 4:27 PM
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What we have is a bunch of bottom level newspaper employees skimming them for headline worthy 'gotcha' information.

And failing! I haven't seen a worthwhile headline yet, and the stories seem merely interesting.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 4:28 PM
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Regardless of whether or not the papers have their "best people" reading the cables, it's just not the sort of job that journalist are really good at doing. I think TKM has it right--this calls for historians. Seriously, apply for some EU funding. Or, oooh, OSI funding.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 4:33 PM
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Politics, or thereabouts: Was anyone else struck by this passage in George Packer's New Yorker review of George W. Bush's apologia?

"George W. Bush and the Redemptive Dream," a new study by Dan P. McAdams, a psychology professor at Northwestern (Oxford; $29.95), argues that September 11th offered a geopolitical version of what the personal conversion experience had given Bush: a story of redemption and mission--in this case, one that could be extended to the country and the world. Nine days after the "day of fire," Bush addressed a joint session of Congress: "In our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment. . . . We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail." McAdams traces Bush's resolve over the Iraq war to this "redemptive dream": "Psychological research shows that powerful narratives in people's lives make it nearly impossible, in many cases, to consider ideas, opinions, possibilities, and facts that run counter to the story." By this interpretation, 9/11 shut and sealed the door to Presidential decision-making. Bush's account of the most consequential episode of his Presidency, the war in Iraq, does not undermine the hypothesis.

I suppose that to many people (not excepting me) who read the New Yorker and would be stuck on a train long enough to have to voluntarily read a New Yorker review of a book by George W. Bush, this too-neatly fits the established outline of the Dub: in a word, weak, by which one usually means "too weak to see things as I see them, probably because of [cite DSM-IV]."* But I was, amusedly, reminded of the reviews of poor old Emily Gould's memoir a few months ago, which made much of her statement that "I can look back and recognise the things I've done and said that were wrong.... But I did these things because I felt the pull of a trajectory...," but seemed to take it less as transparent excuse than evidence of strength of character. I suspect sexism, other things being equal.**

I won't make the obvious, and patently sexist, allusions to Sarah Palin uniting these masculine and feminine strains of shallow narcissism, but, you know, come on.

* Another quote from the review: "Bush once told an elementary-school class in Crawford, Texas, 'Is it hard to make decisions as president? Not really. If you know what you believe, decisions come pretty easy. If you're one of these types of people that are always trying to figure out which way the wind is blowing, decision making can be difficult. But I find that I know who I am. I know what I believe in.' "

** "Other things being equal" doing, acknowledgedly, a lot of work in that sentence.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 4:38 PM
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They could write dissertations on it. We'll look forward to their defenses an unspecified number of years from now.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 4:39 PM
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67 to 65.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 4:40 PM
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Have we discussed the whole body-scanner/feel-up security thing? Because I've been wanting to mention how uselessly invasive the whole thing is. Has no one else ever read a transcript or opinion or novel about prison? When the bad guys want to hide something, they hide it in places you just aren't going to detect with even a thorough groping.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 4:44 PM
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You know, I have to say, I think the job of producing news from a large collection of secret diplomatic documents is pretty archetypal journalism.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 4:45 PM
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But the job of producing understanding or knowledge is not; and the job of producing news is often positively inimical to it.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 4:47 PM
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69: Bruce Schneier's been making that point for years. Nobody's listening, though.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 4:48 PM
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Pull my finger!


Posted by: Pauly Shore | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 4:51 PM
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69: The TSA's new measures are probably better taken as a silent admission, on the part of the administration, that neither money nor political energy is available to create and implement the needed new, comprehensive air transportation security regime (checked baggage screening, scanning for explosives and radioactive materials, identification and surveillance, electronic and human, of every person entering an airport, etc., et Bruce Schneier cetera).


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 4:51 PM
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How is knowing this a bad thing?


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 5:10 PM
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I suppose a person could make the obligatory observation that the harder it is to smuggle explosives onto a plane, the less likely they are to be smuggled onto a plane. Shoving something up your butt is a more serious endeavor than carrying it between your legs or in your shoes. To say that full body scans, and pat-downs of, apparently, less than 1% of air travelers, is not foolproof protection against the bad guys is to mistake the goal, which is not complete security, but increased security.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 5:15 PM
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The TSA's new measures are probably better taken as a silent admission, on the part of the administration, that neither money nor political energy is available to create and implement the needed new, comprehensive air transportation security regime our security does not if fact require any sort of meaningful security procedures in excess of what we had in place on 9/10/01 (reinforced cockpit doors excepted), but our politics requires the appearance of such procedures.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 5:24 PM
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Making explosive underwear or explosive shoes: difficult, unlikely to work. Shoving explosives up your butt: difficult, uncomfortable, unlikely to work. Isn't it worth spending tens of millions to make thousands of air travelers a year uncomfortable to make potential terrorists uncomfortable?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 5:24 PM
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Shoving something up your butt is a more serious endeavor than carrying it between your legs or in your shoes.

Parsimon, you holy innocent, I love that you wrote this sentence on this blog. In any case, whether or not you're right about the mistaking of the goal, the connection between enhanced search techniques and enhanced security has been tenuous for at least nine years.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 5:25 PM
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77 is apposite. There was a list somewhere or other of airline bombings on US airlines over a four year stretch in the 80s; how could we possibly have survived?!?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 5:25 PM
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57: vastly, vastly overclassifies things, which of course means it's impossible for people outside the foreign affairs/national security apparatus to evaluate the decisions of those inside the foreign affairs/national security apparatus, which of course is so fucking stupidly horrible that I'm willing to give Julian Assange (who really does sound like a tool) a pass for doing a thing that everybody with access should be doing all the fucking time because fuck.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 5:29 PM
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Apparently the news coverage of the outrage and proposed protest of the backscatter machines has led a bunch of lowish-information supposed lefties of my acquaintance to decide that objecting to the TSA is a "Tea Party thing" or a symptom of being a right-leaning bad sport about government. What the fuck.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 5:30 PM
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Shoving something up your butt is a more serious endeavor than carrying it between your legs or in your shoes.

Blowing up an aircraft that you are flying in is also somewhat of a serious endeavor. So weighing a significant intrusion on the privacy of large numbers of travelers against the possibility of increased security vis-a-vis the supposed terrorists who would balk at the extra effor of stuffing contraband into body caities, well, the trade-off seems less than justified.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 5:30 PM
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82: yep, I've been frustrated by that phenomenon as well. The fact that it correlates to a bunch of low-information bush voters deciding that the TSA is the evil of all evils helps not a bit, no it does not.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 5:31 PM
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62: I think it is rather interesting to know that, say, Saudi Arabia wanted action against Iran.

I hadn't read anything about the latest wikileaks dump until just now; information about attacking Iran is extremely disturbing.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 5:33 PM
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82, 84: I've seen some backlash-to-the-backlash comments that seem to me to come awfully close to saying "If everyone gets treated alike, including Whitey and Richie Rich, invasive searches are OK," a flawed but disappointingly common argument.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 5:36 PM
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Oregon terrorism update: leaders of the Corvallis mosque the would-be bomber attended released a statement condemning the would-be attack, but someone tried to torch the place last night anyway.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 5:39 PM
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Or more specifically, someone did torch it, but the damage was contained.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 5:40 PM
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|| Some more detail on that bank robbery in my building a while back. Apparently no one told this guy that there's a Manhattan in Montana. The city fathers should send him a registration form for the Potato Festival, in case he wants to have some lunch before robbing a bank there.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 5:47 PM
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79: you holy innocent

Sorry. As for whether enhanced search techniques lead to enhanced security, you can't prove a negative.

This topic is horribly fraught, because I find myself voicing for the record the presumed rationale for enhanced security methods, i.e. deterrence, and people tend to assume I'm thereby arguing in favor of these methods despite their obvious drawbacks.

I'm really on the fence on this one. Do I have to spell it out? No, I do not like an increased police state. On the other hand, I know that people will freak the fuck out if their friends or family are blown up by another underwear bomber.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 5:48 PM
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88: Because they had to smuggle the accelerants in their ass?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 5:51 PM
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Objecting to the TSA's existence and role seems to me to be pretty much a Tea Party thing. Someone is going to oversee airport security, and the arguments in favor of it being private security companies rather the government don't seem to me to be better than those in favor of Blackwater supplanting military functions in Iraq. Plus a bonus dose of union-bashing. Objecting to, e.g., specific security procedures is something else entirely.

Also: I know that people will freak the fuck out ifwhen their friends or family are blown up by another underwear bomber.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 5:59 PM
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Yeah, the whole private security notion is utter bullshit. It's just galling to have this recent turn of events turn so many people actively against the very idea that one might reasonably object to the way the TSA has handled the choice and implementation of security procedures.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 6:02 PM
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No, I do not like an increased police state. On the other hand, I know that people will freak the fuck out if their friends or family are blown up by another underwear bomber.

There is a surprising amount of "Just toughen up! Are you wimpier than the Israelis/Brits during the Blitz*/Americans of the pre-penicillin era?" flying around, but I suspect that the political class are not wrong in, apparently, believing that people need to see security measures being taken in order to take comfort in them. The error is thinking that invisible security measures can be short-changed. Cough absence of radiation detectors at large ports and border crossings cough.

* No idea why this irritates me so much, but fuck you, Bo/ngBo/ng generally and C/ry D/ct/r/w individually.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 6:02 PM
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Objecting to the TSA's existence and role seems to me to be pretty much a Tea Party thing.

Over the past two months. As opposed to during Bush's time in office (as well as Obama's first year or so) when it was nothing of the sort.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 6:21 PM
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The error is thinking that invisible security measures can be short-changed.

Serious question: is there reason to think they are being shortchanged? I mean, we know that in that past they have been, but my sense was that this was being corrected. But you mention absence of radiation detectors. I confess I haven't been following this security detail. I may well be woefully underinformed here.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 6:24 PM
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I should have read Blanding's entire comment.

This:
Objecting to, e.g., specific security procedures is something else entirely.
seems to be most of what's going on in non-wingnut circles. There is a separate, opportunistic, Koch-funded attempt to use this frustration to trigger the anti-union provisions of the patriot act. Because of this, lots of people who would otherwise be really unhappy about the pointless expansion of the police state seem to have decided that the police state, in this instance, is on the side of the angels, which makes me more than a little bit frustrated.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 6:24 PM
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Serious question: is there reason to think they are being shortchanged?

Yes. For instance the coughenthetical reason mentioned in the comment to which you are responding.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 6:25 PM
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98: Right. I just didn't know about that specifically.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 6:35 PM
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Over the past two months. As opposed to during Bush's time in office (as well as Obama's first year or so) when it was nothing of the sort.

Of what Tea Party complaint is that not true?

There was a lot of this sort of thing going on.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 6:37 PM
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For instance the coughenthetical....

I should stop doing that. It's closer to "um, no" and "teh" than I feel reflects my better stylistic angels.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 6:38 PM
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There are plenty of other reasons, of course, both in terms of passenger airline security and in other realms. Bruce Schneier, as mentioned above, has been all over this for a long time, both on his invaluable blog on the topic and in columns and interviews in various places, which are definitely worth looking up.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 6:38 PM
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Fuck a lot of C/ry D/ct/r/w, but I do agree in that my standard response is "More people Americans drown in bathtubs than die in terrorist attacks". IOW, stop wetting yourself, people.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 6:39 PM
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102 to 99, vaulting Kobe.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 6:40 PM
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You know, I have to say, I think the job of producing news from a large collection of secret diplomatic documents is pretty archetypal journalism.

But there is no real news in this stuff. Not in the sense of 'stuff we didn't already know'. On the other hand, a quarter million documents is a large enough data pile for the kinds of historical methods and understanding that comes from immersion in archival sources to come into play for getting a sense of how the contemporary US diplomatic service works and thinks. That's neither amenable to typical journalistic methods nor to a news article format.

On the EU: who in Brussels would care to fund something like that? I can easily see this being done by an intelligence service, but I don't think they're going to be tendering grants to Americans.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 6:40 PM
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103: and, really, the chance that one of those machines will malfunction and give your testicles a one or two-hundred times dose of radiation has to be significantly higher than some dumbass actually managing to bring down your plane with explosive-impregnated boxer briefs. (as has I think been extensively discussed in various posts everybody's least-favorite lousy sci-fi author/nerd fanboy/embarrassingly awful blogger has linked to)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 6:43 PM
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Jeffrey Goldberg has been good on this, even if he is just trying to popularize Schneier's ideas.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 6:44 PM
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||

Has this been remarked upon here yet? You got your youtube in my football!.

|>


Posted by: Mo MacArbie | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 6:44 PM
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106 cont'd: and one of Bruce Schneier's biggest stalking horses, of course, is that the last thing an intelligent terrorist is going to do is something somebody else recently tried and failed.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 6:44 PM
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Or, for that matter, something someone else recently tried and succeeded at when a whole lot of attention is currently directed at exactly that method.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 6:46 PM
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In terrorism, as in noise music, nothing fails like success.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 6:46 PM
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I liked something from a recent Goldberg blog post to effect that "If you wanted to kill a lot of people and cause panic, bomb the airport security line."


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 6:47 PM
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Really? Because I didn't know for sure that the US was getting the State Department to spy on the UN, or that Riyadh had asked the US to attack Iran, and so on. I think there's a lot of stuff we suspected, but the confirmation is important, as is the stuff where you go oh, didn't know that.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 6:50 PM
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The conversation has moved on, but I remembered an actual personal anecdote that has to do with the Wikileaks thing. In my first two years of high school I did Model U.N., and I think my second year our team drew the United States. During the event, we were trying to get the Freedom Caucus or whatever it was (as opposed to the Soviet bloc and the nonaligned countries) to support some proposal or other of ours, but Japan wasn't going for it. So I sent them a written note (we had pages who carried notes back and forth, somehow) that read, "We control caucus," so do what we say on this. And of course at the next caucus meeting they showed everyone the note and people were pissed (actually people probably were already sick of me because I was pretty obnoxious even for a Model U.N. kid), and maybe even voted within the caucus to reprimand me or something. And boy was my face red! But we got our way on whatever issue it was, it turned out.

As you can see, my story is just like what's happening and going to happen with the Wikileaks thing, except for the part where I find five dollars.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 6:53 PM
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"If you wanted to kill a lot of people and cause panic, bomb the airport security line."

I don't disagree with the thinking around this, exactly, but I wonder whether it gives appropriate weight to the difference between the era before September 11, 2001, and the new era of, for want of an original turn of phrase, catastrophic terrorism. Bringing down a plane -- bringing down a plane into a densely-populated area -- seems qualitatively different from killing a bunch of people with a bomb or two in a crowd.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 6:53 PM
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Yes, but less catastrophic than bombing a tree-lighting ceremony?


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 6:57 PM
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106,last: I totally don't know why anyone is reading C/ry D/ct/r/w on this matter and why he would have anything authoritative or interesting to say about it. Is this someone you would turn to in discussion of national security? I say no. I find this annoying. Grr.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 6:59 PM
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I totally don't know why anyone is reading C/ry D/ct/r/w.

Confirmation bias?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:01 PM
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105: There's news, and then there's journalism. I could see both of the big Wikileaks dumps resulting in some amazing journalism, if you had a team of people that could coordinate with other sources, including the non-classified, publicly available government publications, and do a pretty scathing j'accuse...but then you'd have to find someone to read the damn thing.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:02 PM
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I'm glad we've moved on from fruitcake, but disappointed that we've not yet gotten to voluptuous Ukrainian nurses.

I'm kidding, but the NY times and Guardian highlights are actually much more entertaining than I'd suspected. I think this is heightened by actually being exposed to some tv news over thanksgiving with my folks, which seemed to be one big freak-out about North Korea. Whereas I'm now being reminded by Wikileaks that the South's big worry is avoiding the hassle of having to take control of North Korea.

Allow me to say I have not read a thing on airport security by He Who Must Be Googleproofed, if that makes anyone feel better.


Posted by: persistently visible | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:03 PM
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115: leaving aside that people have known perfectly well that the WTC towers comprised a uniquely effective target for terrorist bombing since the early seventies at least, there was a plane brought down in a densely-populated area on September 11th 2001 that totally failed to cause "qualitatively different" (or, for that matter, quantitatively different) damage from previous terrorist attacks. If you want to talk about a "qualitatively different" terrorist attack, I'd talk about the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, for the way they were geographically distributed, unpredictable, repeatable and undefendable, but of course they don't fit the right narrative.

If anything, the lesson of the September 11th attacks should have been that tall buildings are surprisingly dangerous, and that plans to deal with catastrophes within and involving them are half-baked at best. But of course that lesson was already well known and isn't susceptible to plausible easy remedy, so LA LA LA LA LA can't hear you.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:04 PM
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Really? Because I didn't know for sure that the US was getting the State Department to spy on the UN, or that Riyadh had asked the US to attack Iran, and so on.

There have been many articles on how the Saudis and other Gulf states want Iran attacked. They have generally been sourced as 'senior/top US' or 'senior/top Gulf' official. There have been less prominent vague references to the US diplomatic service being more actively used in intelligence activities than before. Spying on the UN by the US (and other major powers, plus minor ones with extensive foreign intelligence operations) is a given. Now the interesting thing to do would be to see a whole bunch of that stuff and get a sense of what the Gulf blue bloods are thinking, how the US is influencing and being influenced by such thinking, and more generally the State Department's understanding and debates on Iran.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:06 PM
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They have generally been sourced as 'senior/top US' or 'senior/top Gulf' official.

No reason to think those kind of quotes come with an agenda.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:07 PM
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If anything, the lesson of the September 11th attacks should have been that tall buildings are surprisingly dangerous

It is? A jetliner filled with fuel scores is a hell of a lot of energy. And yet the buildings managed to stay up long enough for pretty much everyone below the level of impact to escape, in spite of the design flaws. The first WTC attack involved a well placed very big bomb and did minimal damage. The lesson to me is that it is actually very difficult to bring down a skyscraper.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:10 PM
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RIP, Leslie Nielsen.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:10 PM
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124: bringing down a skyscraper is not easy -- even the WTC towers, which were sort of the platonic ideal of an easy to bring down skyscraper -- but fighting catastrophic fire and evacuating occupants above the fire line are both basically impossible.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:13 PM
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118: Well, I haven't read him, so I wouldn't know. Or, what?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:15 PM
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If I remember (which I might not; it has been quite a while) almost everybody who died in the WTC either worked above the fire line or was a first responder. If there had been a massive fire on (say) the 10th floor, even if the buildings hadn't collapsed, there's a good chance the death toll would have been far higher.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:15 PM
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[T]here's a good chance the death toll would have been far higher.

I tremble at the thought of a world in which 9/11 had a five-figure body count.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:17 PM
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125: Fuck. This guy I'll mourn.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:20 PM
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122: Now the interesting thing to do would be to see a whole bunch of that stuff and get a sense of what the Gulf blue bloods are thinking, how the US is influencing and being influenced by such thinking, and more generally the State Department's understanding and debates on Iran.

Yes. This continues to be quite upsetting.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:25 PM
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and the new era of, for want of an original turn of phrase, catastrophic terrorism

9/11 was impressive and all, but it doesn't seem to have ushered in any kind of "new era."

And, per Sifu's 80, here's a link to a discussion of those attacks in the '80s.

We don't have to freak out about this stuff, any more than we are compelled to freak out about the thousands of people killed annually in, say, auto accidents.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:25 PM
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9/11 was impressive and all, but it doesn't seem to have ushered in any kind of "new era."

The era of genocide that was the late-nineteenth and twentieth centuries probably didn't seem apparent during the Grant administration, either.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:35 PM
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a batch of candied orange peel ready to go

Candied citrus peel is my favorite holiday dish, mostly because it is so simple. All you need to do is scrape a bunch of lime, lemon, and orange (and grapefruit, maybe) rinse and boil them down in a sugar solution. The result is something that tastes good, travels well, and looks cool. I mean, it's the easiest thing you can do for a holiday.

On the topic of airport security, I'll only note that, when I fly again I'm getting a free feel out of it, and that when I see all of these people who are angry about being checked, I wonder how many of them were thrilled about the heightened security post-911.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:35 PM
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What's stupid about this whole thing is that I'm really not the type to opt-out of security measures by way of protest, but the arguments about the possibility of radiation exposure in the new scanners have me just about convinced to do it anyhow. Ugh; yay.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:40 PM
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A pat-down would probably not be unbearable.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:44 PM
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136: yes, parsimon, you would be perfectly able to live-through an ill-trained employee grabbing your tits. It would still be infuriating if, as is pretty evidently the case, it's also pointless.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:48 PM
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I-am-so-irritated-by-all-of-this-I-am-using-lots-of-hyphens.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:48 PM
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I would at least appreciate the courtesy of a reach around. Can we get that as part of the TSA training?


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:51 PM
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And I'll tell ya, though, although it totally isn't a big deal at all compared to the ways that much of the population is subjected to the whims and depradations of various institutions, but I do feel bad for my friend the pre-op transexual. What's she supposed to do? She wears falsies, I assume, so she's going to get flagged for extra screening anyhow, but what gender pat-down-er does she ask for? A man, giving up the game to anybody in the security area? A woman? Can my friend then get sued for sexual harrassment, or something? Can she fly to Texas without fear of getting arrested on the return trip?

Again, there are obviously bigger deals.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:51 PM
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"You're excited? You should feel my nipples."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:53 PM
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137: Whoa. I meant 136 in a sympathetic fashion: if you have worries about the scanner so that the pat-down is required (under current protocols), it's probably not the worst thing that ever happened to you.

?

Airport security arrangements are as they are right now. We hope that they'll change. But if you have to fly right now, that's how it is. Are you saying I should be infuriated by it?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:55 PM
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"It is what it is" is hardly a reason not to object.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:56 PM
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142.last: no. I probably shouldn't be either (I mean, I don't fly that much; there are much, much bigger problems; there are other ways to get places -- look at John Madden; white-guy-getting-mad-when-something-finally-affects-him syndrome is real, people). I sort of am, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:58 PM
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142.last is blasé in a way that seems out of character for you, parsimon.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 7:58 PM
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Are you saying I should be infuriated by it

Yes.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:00 PM
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140: That's the kind of thing that's worth making noise about, until the new security measures change overall: how to address people in special situations. This is *not* to say that full-body scans and pat-downs are fine and should be the norm, but given that they are at the moment, how must they be adjusted to accommodate the entire population.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:01 PM
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Here's why I'm infuriated by the new security regime: try imagining what the "radiation or groping" rules mean to someone traveling with toddlers. Our kids are too young to go through the new magic scanners (can't stand still with arms raised for five seconds) so that pretty much means fondling for the whole family! Not thrilled about handing my kids over for it.

(Ugh. Did I just pull a full-on "well, as a parent"? I hate myself.)


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:01 PM
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Leslie Nielsen had 32 credits in 1962, 34 credits in 1965, and 17 credits in 1967. 239 in all, mostly when there were three channels.

Dennis Farina has 76 credits in 25 years.

Here's one:Stephen Tobolowsky has 201 credits.

The very best character actors are made of equal parts discipline and madness, and the fact that our faces are more familiar than our names is not our curse, but our blessing. The character actor's goal, after all, is not to earn the adulation of the public; it is to give lives to a hundred nameless spirits who make us laugh or cry, who are both familiar and new, who show us that their journey is our journey, and who, like everyone in the audience, never get to kiss Renée Zellweger.
...ST

Nielsen of course began being groomed as a star, and got to kiss Ann Francis and Debbie Reynolds, and achieved stardom again as a clown, but was a character actor for most of his career, at a time when character actors were what made episodic TV drama work.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:02 PM
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On the question of radiation exposure vs groping, it seems that various biology phds are suggesting to be vary of the radiation exposure.


Posted by: BA | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:07 PM
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Can I also say, by the way, that "pat-down" doesn't really describe what we're talking about? I've been patted down many times, and on none of those occasions did anybody cup my balls (which is part of the "enhanced pat-down" we're talking about). I imagine for those with an alternate genitalway, you haven't had somebody cup your breasts or grab your crotch or whatever.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:07 PM
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Relevant and funny.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:09 PM
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I didn't fly until a number of years after 9-11 - something like seven years. I was amazed at what sheep Americans had become, that they were willing to put up with this.

Before that plane trip, I was constantly being surprised by American politics, and how warped by fear it had become. Afterward, not so much.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:10 PM
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"We have to search up your thighs and between your legs until we meet resistance," he explained.

"Resistance?" I asked.

"Your testicles," he explained.

'That's funny," I said, "because 'The Resistance' is the actual name I've given to my testicles."


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:10 PM
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Our kids are too young to go through the new magic scanners (can't stand still with arms raised for five seconds) so that pretty much means fondling for the whole family! Not thrilled about handing my kids over for it.

I'm not sure if I'm misunderstanding you, but kids under 12 are not subject to a pat-down. The TSA screwed up a few times initially, apparently, and the word on that hadn't fully disseminated, but that's the rule. So I think that means you go through the scanner while the kids wait by the side. The kids don't get fondled, though.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:10 PM
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I do feel bad for my friend the pre-op transexual.

All this nonsense is likely to be most humiliating to people who fall between (outside) gender norms ( I mean, scans?) but then what isn't? People who fall between (suburban) gender norms have to deal with this kind of shit constantly.

I haven't flown in a year or so, so I haven't encountered any of the new rules.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:11 PM
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It's true: I haven't had anybody cup my balls in ages. Sigh.


Posted by: TOS | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:12 PM
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The kids don't get fondled, though.

This gives me an idea! Little rugrats are pretty roly-poly anyhow; you could hide a lot in an adorably bulky toddler-sweater.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:13 PM
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I imagine for those with an alternate genitalway, you haven't had somebody cup your breasts or grab your crotch or whatever.

Not in ages. Or were you just talking by airport security?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:14 PM
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Sifu's point is so important it should be made explicit. Either patdowns are crucial to stopping terrorism, in which case we should not be inhibited by squeamishness on the part of parents, or it isn't, in which case no one should be subjected to it. The current policy strongly suggests the latter.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:17 PM
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Please ignore my attempt to match singulars with plurals.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:20 PM
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Lest my comment seem to minimize the obnoxiousness that trans (or any one ) people rate during at pat-down, I don't mean it that way. I take it for granted that everyone will encounter a degree of harassment during a pat-down; trans people just have their own bundle of worries. I don't like any of this. To the extent that I seem to tolerate it at all, it's merely because I'm resigned to the way people seemed to suck it up to begin with.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:21 PM
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[L]ook at John Madden....

I saw his tour bus once; he was sitting by a window. His head is bigger than Jupiter.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:33 PM
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Trans people, and to a lesser extent but in a more amusing fashion, the chronically flatulent.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:34 PM
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151: I imagine for those with an alternate genitalway, you haven't had somebody cup your breasts or grab your crotch or whatever.

I don't know what to make of this. Someone does this once a year for an annual physical. Admittedly, that's in a 'safe space', a doctor's office. I really don't know how I'd respond to it happening in an airport, but I'm not sure I'd freak out. I'm pretty used to my body being subjected to tests of various sorts; a lot of people aren't, and a lot of people don't go to the doctor with any regularity, so their physical boundaries are much closer.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:35 PM
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I'm not sure if I'm misunderstanding you, but kids under 12 are not subject to a pat-down.

They receive, according to the official communications I've seen, a "modified" pat-down. I have not seen any explanation of what that entails.

(Also, to Sifu's point, if I were going to hide something on a toddler, I wouldn't do it in a sweater. Diaper, dude.)


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:35 PM
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I'm not sure if I'm misunderstanding you, but kids under 12 are not subject to a pat-down.

They receive, according to the official communications I've seen, a "modified" pat-down. I have not seen any explanation of what that entails.

(Also, to Sifu's point, if I were going to hide something on a toddler, I wouldn't do it in a sweater. Diaper, dude.)


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:35 PM
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163: I saw him at a restaurant once; he's astonishing, Jabba the Hutt Mountain.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:36 PM
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But seriously, even toddlers aside, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect there to be different categories of acceptable touches from my personal physician in his/her office and an agent of the United States government in a public place. And, really, I think we can set the standard higher than, "Well, if you wouldn't literally freak out, it's probably OK."


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:37 PM
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165: right, and it's administered by your doctor, who presumably you trust (or would like to trust), and it's in the interest of your own health. I don't really know how to express why this is different if it doesn't seem different to you, except to point out again that it actually isn't doing anything whatsoever to keep you or anybody else from being blown up or otherwise injured.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:38 PM
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168: I saw Michael Keaton at a restaurant once. He was very normal looking.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:40 PM
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(Also, to Sifu's point, if I were going to hide something on a toddler, I wouldn't do it in a sweater. Diaper, dude.)

I was long of the opinion that the best way to smuggle drugs into the country was to hide them in a soiled adult diaper. "Anything to declare?" asks the customs officer. "Nothin' but the load in my pants!" you cackle, in your old age makeup.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:40 PM
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Well, Sifu, I sort of see what you're saying, but the last time I was dating someone she did all sorts of stuff to my genitals, so I really don't see what the big deal here is.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:41 PM
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173: and have you dated somebody since? No indeed. If that sort of behavior keeps up the whole dating industry will collapse as people opt to get their companionship from busses and trains.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:42 PM
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I am positive that there are plenty of experiences I could survive that I do not wish to be subjected to in order to avoid a probability of death that is less than what I willingly accept on a daily basis in my car.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:42 PM
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I mostly think the radiation issue is a red herring - it seems the official line is that exposure is a minuscule fraction of normal background radiation, the estimate from a critic (which is probably a good upper bound) is that it's equivalent to 10-20 minutes in the air, and inadequately studied is whether what radiation there is might accumulate in the skin and cause skin cancer. But with such a low amount of overall exposure, I don't think it's a pressing concern.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:42 PM
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I knew someone, my elementary school gym teacher, who smuggled her gold jewelry out of Nazi Germany in a bag of dirty diapers! She and her husband skied out, I guess with the baby strapped onto one of their backs.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:44 PM
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The radiation issue is not what you should be exposed to if the machine is working right, but what you might be exposed to if it is not. And we all know that there are plenty of bugs in the first rollout.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:45 PM
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174: You have to do a cost-benefit analysis. A flight is much more expensive than an average date, but you are guaranteed to get a grope on a flight.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:48 PM
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179: But the odds of a happy ending from the TSA are pretty much zero.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:49 PM
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176: from what I understand, the real concern is that the machine does a raster scan; if it stops at some point, does it shut off, or does it keep irradiating whatever horizontal slice of your body it was scanning at the time? That doesn't seem like a question that's been answered.

Also, there are questions (again, from what I understand) about what percentage of body mass will be absorbing the radiation, and if the skin and extremities will get a much larger dose than more internal parts of one's anatomy.

None of which would really be super compelling questions if we were talking about (for instance) something as genuinely useful as an MRI (which is also totally safe as far as anybody can tell). But why are these questions being asked now for a machine that's 1. not very effective at 2. solving a problem that's not a very big problem by 3. subjecting thousands and thousands of people to these scans?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:50 PM
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I'm pretty used to my body being subjected to tests of various sorts

Damned aliens.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:51 PM
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There are a couple of different scanning technologies: X-ray backscattering and millimeter wave scans. I would guess the millimeter wave scans are completely safe. At any rate, the grounds on which this should be fought probably aren't primarily health-related.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:54 PM
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Remember the uproar about mammograms? The mammogram itself will cause a certain number of cancers due to radiation, there is therefore a point at which more mammograms cause more cancers than they detect.

We are trying to prevent (since 2001) 300 deaths a year. It would take a very small amount of radiation per person to cause this many deaths, given the large population of flyers.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:57 PM
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183: no, they certainly aren't. What bothers me (just, you know, personally) is that the health concerns that have been raised about backscatter scanners (which are what are being deployed, I believe, yeah?) are plausible enough that I'm considering opting out, even though I think the whole "opt out as a form of protest!" thing is kind of tiresome and I would absolutely be happy enough not to be a part of it.

None of this has anything to do with political or activist strategies that might be effective in rolling back this change.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:57 PM
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Though essear makes a great point - the millimeter machines are apparently totally safe.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:58 PM
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182: The aliens don't probe until you are on the ship, which seems a major security hole.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 8:59 PM
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backscatter scanners (which are what are being deployed, I believe, yeah?)

As I understand it, both are being deployed. I haven't been able to find a list of which technology is in use where.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:04 PM
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Look, I'm happy to accept the more relaxed security we previously had. I would prefer it. If you think that the public at large is willing to accept the risk, I agree, they should.

I just think they're really going to freak out if someone sitting next to them turns out to be harboring an underwear bomb. Look how we decided to attack and destroy an entire region of the globe because 3000 people were killed on 9/11. The American populace is a very frightened people who demand that everything be fixed and taken care of, and no bad should come. We don't know what the hell to do with ourselves now that bad things are within our shores. It is absolutely the case that policing one another is the wrong way to proceed.

So come up with a way, a narrative, to explain to the American people that we don't want to go down this road, and that there are risks we are going to have to accept.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:05 PM
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I just think they're really going to freak out if someone sitting next to them turns out to be harboring an underwear bomb.

Nah, I'd remain totally calm.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:06 PM
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Doesn't the Constitution have some provision about searches? Maybe somewhere towards the back?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:09 PM
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Back during the Ming Dynasty, there was a movement to protest searches of ships by officials in port. There was one merchant vessel whose captain was so opposed to the search that he shouted, "Don't touch my junk."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:11 PM
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191: Here you go.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:13 PM
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190: This made me snort in laughter. Thanks. 189 was written in accompaniment to a bunch of figurative running around tearing my hair out. So thanks, I needed that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:14 PM
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191: luckily, there are plenty of people around to assert that they're reasonable searches. And (as one of my facebook friends in LA sort of hilariously posted) air travel is a privilege so if you don't want to get searched, just drive! (I was going to ask him if he really thought driving was a right, and whether that right still applied if you didn't have insurance or had a DUI or... yeah, but I try not to rag on fellow travelers too much, my behavior on unfogged notwithstanding.)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:17 PM
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Clearly, the Constitution was designed for shut-ins who stay on their own property at all times.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:21 PM
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air travel is a privilege so if you don't want to get searched, just drive!

I think I'll need some help in my attempt to protest TSA policy by building a bridge to Europe.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:23 PM
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197: Wait for an ice age. You'll need to go the long way.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:26 PM
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What, you can't use a boat? I hear that port security isn't so strict.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:29 PM
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Also, 193 is pretty cool, but I wouldn't wear anything like that. I'm so tired of people hiding behind the Constitution.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:36 PM
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I must say that it's hilarious that people are up in arms over unwarranted searches when they're done on (privileged) white people. I know this was mentioned upthread as a low blow.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:39 PM
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197-199: Pantywaists. (cf. step 24)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:43 PM
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Only a low blow if you assume that we're all okay with unwarranted searches on non-white people. One hell of an assumption.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:43 PM
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201: I'm up in arms, personally, over unwarranted searches of anyone our Constitution is supposed to protect. The implication that this particular issue is being discussed only because it affects privileged white folks and that presumably we couldn't care less about the Fourth Amendment when it's unprivilege non-whites being searched is not merely a "low blow.". It's insulting and inaccurate.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:51 PM
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203: I know, and I don't assume that. I don't mean people here; rather, the public at large. Many don't even see non-white people.

It's possible that some good may come of all this -- the TSA dust-up -- in the area of civil rights for all persons. Maybe mainstream white people will get that unwarranted stopping and searching is not cool. It's unlikely that they'll remember once the problem is no longer in their own personal faces, but maybe we could insist on a narrative about it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:52 PM
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204: I'm with you if, by "up in arms", you mean "willing to complain pseudonymously on blogs".


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:55 PM
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maybe we could insist on a narrative about it

Okay, but I really think the narrative should be something other than "Oh, it's nothing to freak out about."


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:56 PM
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As regards whiteness, airline pilots have been bitching about their going through security for years. But, it wasn't until this new stuff that they threatened work actions. Is that because of their race?


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:56 PM
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I'm with you if, by "up in arms", you mean "willing to complain pseudonymously on blogs"

Personally, I go with "litigate this sort of issue with reasonable frequency on behalf of indigent criminal defendants." Truthfully, that's probably almost as useful as pseudonymous blog griping.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 9:59 PM
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207: There are several lines of thought in play. One is that it's nothing to freak out about *if it's necessary*. Another is that it's plenty to be concerned about *if it's not necessary*. A tough issue.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:02 PM
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209: Are you kidding? Compared to me you're like a goddamned superhero.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:04 PM
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All this nonsense is likely to be most humiliating to people who fall between (outside) gender norms ( I mean, scans?) but then what isn't?

Let me recommend not going to jail/prison if you are trans, not that I enthusiastically recommend it otherwise.

Also someone let me know when that bridge to Europe is finished. 3,500 MILE ROAD TRIP WHO'S IN?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:04 PM
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I mean, I even leave the complaining to those more articulate.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:06 PM
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210: If I'm understanding you right, and I'm really trying to, you're saying that the American people are scared, and the backscatter machines or the gropes are a kind of security blanket of sorts. So, we should let Americans have their blankies or they might insist that we level Tehran next time. Beyond that, you've got no argument at all, right? That sounds harsh, I know, but please take it at face value: as a serious question. And if you'll forgive a follow-up, why should anyone accept that the irrational fears of frightened sheep should shape federal policy? I just don't get it.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:10 PM
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171 I sat behind Laurie Anderson at a long, atonal German opera once and she looked sort of like this one picture of Julian Assange. But not all that much.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:11 PM
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210

Okay. It's only tough if there's a question about why it's necessary. So then why is it necessary? Or, on preview, what ari said.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:18 PM
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While you're waiting for the bridge to Europe, you could always hoof it across the Bering Strait in winter. Adds a few miles and some visa hassles, but still, flying is a privilege.

I really want a pair of those boxers in 193, even though I have no plans to fly soon. I suppose they might be problematic if you were looking to score with a constitutional lawyer or someone in law enforcement, but I'm not planning on doing that either.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:24 PM
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214: I haven't been trying to make an argument per se. Just laying out the ground as I see it. I'd prefer that the fears of a frightened people not shape federal policy. What we have to do is figure out how to address those fears while remaining sane.

I'm not sure what "you've got no argument at all, right?" is doing in your comment. I wasn't trying to make an argument in favor of the new enhanced security measures, if that's what you mean. Just giving the rationales for it -- that'd be two-fold: deterrence of future bombing attempts, and security blanket. Whether those rationales are sensible is an entirely different question.

I hadn't considered Iran as a factor here; I'd seen that as a function of international machinations, not really having to do with the fears of Americans, though I suppose they could be rallied to the cause. I doubt it. Another war? Are you fucking kidding me?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 10:41 PM
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What we have to do is figure out how to address those fears while remaining sane.

One way to address those fears would be stop actively manufacturing them through the use of increasingly invasive 'heightened security is now necessary' measures.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 11:02 PM
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76

Hey, a comment by parsimon that I agree with. While there is always a cost vrs benefit question anything that makes things harder for the opposition has some benefit. Arguments that some security measure is completely worthless because it is possible to evade it are generally bogus. As are arguments that assume all our opponents are intelligent.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 11:26 PM
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132

We don't have to freak out about this stuff, any more than we are compelled to freak out about the thousands of people killed annually in, say, auto accidents.

Anybody who thinks the country wouldn't freak out about another 911 type incident is living in a fantasy world.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 11:29 PM
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James is your "anybody" related to parsimon's "people" above? Because I don't think there's a single person here -- as opposed to the people you construct out of straw in your imagination -- who believes that another massive terrorist attack in the US will be met with anything other than another massive overreaction on the part of the American people and government. The question, then, is whether more security theater makes such an attack less likely. Or, if you'd prefer to formulate the question as parsimon seems to, will more security theater make people so much more comfortable that if (when?) there's another massive terrorist attack in the US, the American people will have been so becalmed by all of the massages from TSA personnel that they won't call for more insane wars of choice.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 11:38 PM
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184

We are trying to prevent (since 2001) 300 deaths a year ...

Your accounting seems a little off. How many people have died in the Middle East as a more or less direct effect of the 911 attacks?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 11:39 PM
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223 really is some super-human trolling. Either that, or you're really insane, James. Or maybe both!


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 11:41 PM
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214

... And if you'll forgive a follow-up, why should anyone accept that the irrational fears of frightened sheep should shape federal policy? I just don't get it.

Do you understand the concept of a democracy?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 11:46 PM
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222

... as opposed to the people you construct out of straw in your imagination ...

I just imagined 132?

... The question, then, is whether more security theater makes such an attack less likely. ...

I think it does although probably not in a very cost effective way.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-28-10 11:50 PM
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225: So you're saying that the will of the people demands that we keep cooking up ever stupider ways of reassuring ourselves that the bad people won't hurt us, so that's what we have to do? Or you're asking a rhetorical question?

226: No, you didn't imagine 132, you just misread it. Whether willfully or not, I can't say.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:10 AM
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221: James, for the record: I think another 9/11 attack - or even another downed airliner or a subway bomber - will lead to another massive over-reaction.

I think it's a shame that this is true; I don't think it has to be true; and I think people of good will should be working to make it as little true as possible.

I don't know why this is unclear to you. You even quoted the relevant part of my comment:

We don't have to freak out about this stuff

Maybe your point isn't so much that I'm wrong, but that I'm hopelessly utopian. Maybe, as realists like you understand, we do have to freak out about this stuff.

And I'm just a latter-day Lennon.

Imagine there's no Security Theater
It's easy if you try
No plan to impose Sharia Law
No reason not to fly


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 2:24 AM
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86: Two of my African-American co-workers said basically, "You can strip me completely and grope my boobs...whatever keeps us safe."


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:07 AM
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I CAN KEEP YOU SAFE ... LAYDEEZ.


Posted by: OPINIONATED GROPER | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:06 AM
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I'm reminded that an island in the Bering Sea is one of two places I've flown since 9/11 with no security at all -- not even a metal detector. The other is in the Caribbean, but they have a metal detector when you arrive.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:10 AM
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146

[shoud people be infuriated?]

Yes.

So who should they be mad at? Obama?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:14 AM
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227

So you're saying that the will of the people demands that we keep cooking up ever stupider ways of reassuring ourselves that the bad people won't hurt us, so that's what we have to do? ...

I am saying public opinion matters in a democracy. And calling the public a bunch of frightened sheep isn't going to change that.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:17 AM
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228

I think it's a shame that this is true; I don't think it has to be true; and I think people of good will should be working to make it as little true as possible.

I think what you said was akin to saying that people don't have to care more about their children than other people's children. Perhaps true in some theoretical sense but it goes against the way we are wired and is not likely any time soon.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:26 AM
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229

Two of my African-American co-workers said basically, "You can strip me completely and grope my boobs...whatever keeps us safe."

Of course this is easy to say if you are part of the 80% (including me) of the public that flies rarely if at all.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:27 AM
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Not having read the thread at all, I want to say:

The other is in the Caribbean, but they have a metal detector when you arrive.

I've probably told it before, but when I flew out of St. Petersburg, Russia, in January of '95, we were the only people in the entirety of the international terminal which was, to put it mildly, a bit rinky-dink. Security consisted of one very sleepy Russian guy standing so that he blocked a doorway. I was the first one through and his hand held metal detector went off the whole way up and down (rivets in jeans, metal bits throughout the boots I had worn for Russia in winter, etc.) and, expecting this to mean that I was going to be cavity searched, I looked at him in fear. He shrugged and said with a smile, "Have a nice flight." I've always figured that since I was leaving the country, what did he care?

As to the original post, what a lovely bunch of fruitcakes! I made cinnamon-ginger scones and two styles of barbecued turkey for Friendsgiving on Saturday; for the holiday proper we stayed around the house and went out to eat with Rah's mother and sister a couple of towns away. I had a delicious steak that was absurdly large. Très tasty.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:34 AM
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232: Inter alia.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:48 AM
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but it goes against the way we are wired

Who's this "we" paleface? A lot of Americans have English ancestry, and they handled their subway bombing quite reasonably, as best as I can reckon.

American stupidity on these issues is a cultural artifact that is subject to change as the culture evolves. It isn't some kind of genetic predisposition.

The pushback we're seeing is, in fact, the first necessary step in changing that culture.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:54 AM
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This looks a lot more hippie than tea party.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:55 AM
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I am saying public opinion matters in a democracy. And calling the public a bunch of frightened sheep isn't going to change that.

Public opinion matters in a democracy, yes. But in our particular version of a democracy, we have a constitution, and the bill of rights appended thereto, in recognition of the fact that our fundamental freedoms must not be dependent on public opinion for their protection.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:58 AM
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Discussions comparing European and American reactions to terrorist attacks (in a manner less than flattering to Americans) remind me of the survey, a few years ago, that suggested that voters in Western Europe were not the capital punishment-opposing saints that American activists imagined, and would cheerfully execute criminals left and right if their respective political classes submitted the matter for public debate again.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:03 AM
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It was useful to plenty of people to stoke overreaction to 9/11, just as it would be useful to stoke overreaction to whatever the next one is.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:06 AM
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238

Who's this "we" paleface? A lot of Americans have English ancestry, and they handled their subway bombing quite reasonably, as best as I can reckon.

Didn't the English police shoot some complete innocent 5 times in the head or am I imaging that also? And the subway bombing didn't kill three thousand people.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:14 AM
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241: I'm not sure what lesson you draw from that fact, but I would agree if your intent is to show that Americans could be content with sensible policies on travel security.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:14 AM
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244: I think it's more that the liberal myth of the enlightened, grace-under-pressure Europe is complicated by the paternalism of even the Labour-style parties, not to mention the Christian Democrat types.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:17 AM
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Ordinary British people are, as far as I can tell, fairly blasé about actually-existing-terrorism. There wasn't much public hysteria at all after the last wave of bombings. However, our political classes and some of our newspapers are just as prone to hysterical stoking of public 'fear' as anywhere else, and for just the same pernicious, self-serving, vicious reasons as elsewhere.* We've implemented most of the same security restrictions at airports as the US.

FWIW, I've mentioned this before, but the nastiest treatment I've had while travelling post-9/11 was in the Netherlands [at Schiphol].

* we can summarize this as 'governed by cunts'.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:21 AM
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Americans could be content with sensible policies on travel security.

Indeed, before the nudie-scanner/thorough-grope policy was introduced, was there widespread public concern with the then-existing security protocols?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:22 AM
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Pointing to England specifically as an example of sensible reactions to domestic security issues is probably not wise.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:26 AM
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re: 248

I'm not really sure why you are singling out the Public Order Act? I suspect most countries have similar provisions.

The level of surveillance is extraordinary, though.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:32 AM
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249: I was trying to find the anti-traveller/anti-rave legislation that was passed in the late 80s, but I suspect I failed to do so.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:34 AM
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Could it be that James is actually a clerk for Associate Justice Scalia. Some of his reasoning above reminds me of this little mouse turd in the middle of Associate Justice Scalia's Boumediene dissent:

one need only walk about buttressed and barricaded Washington, or board a plane anywhere in the country, to know that the threat is a serious one.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:34 AM
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Maybe this one?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:36 AM
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251: Wait, what? James' argument, IIUC, is that when doing a cost-benefit analysis one probably needs to factor in that our national decision making process tends towards massive, costly overreactions to certain disasters, and so extra preventative steps may be advisable.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:41 AM
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251: James just has a different take on American exceptionalism. Those Brits don't know terrorism the way we do.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:46 AM
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We've implemented most of the same security restrictions at airports as the US.

In large part this is because if we don't the US won't let flights into US airspace that originate in Britain.

Didn't the English police shoot some complete innocent 5 times in the head

Well, that's exactly the difference. In the US, dusky innocents can be shot in the head by police at any time, regardless of whether there's been a terrorist attack or not. At least the Met did it by mistake, unlike (say) the BART police.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:46 AM
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re: 250

Yeah, that's the one. Inspired a lot of resistance.

I think it's important to distinguish between the UK surveillance state, which is really pretty sinister, and driven much more by things internal to our political system* than by external public pressure; and public reactions to terrorist attacks, which tend, on the whole, to be fairly sober.

* both our major parties have had quite strong authoritarian elements over the past 20 years.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:46 AM
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253: The problem is that James seems to be endorsing tolerance for overreaction, not insisting on improved security. He's opined (in 226) that these measures are not, in fact, cost-effective.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:51 AM
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The level of surveillance is extraordinary, though.

That "300 CCTV cameras a day" factoid has been going the rounds for a long time, but
a) it includes all cameras, private and public - so simply by going into the average Tesco, for example, you'll be captured by about nine or ten CCTV cameras.
and
b) its factual basis is shaky, not to say cherrypicked, or, not to be too mealy-mouthed about it, utter rubbish. The source is from a 1999 book on surveillance, one chapter of which describes a fictional day in the life of a fictional Londoner, and concludes that at the end of that day "Thomas" had been captured by 300 cameras on 30 CCTV systems.
And "Thomas" wasn't a typical Brit, or even a typical Londoner: he "is a City type who, rather unusually, lives on a drug-infested estate. He manages to visit two schools, the maternity wing of a hospital, goes to work, shops, is caught speeding in his car, crosses a level-crossing, parks in several car parks before switching to public transport. He goes to Heathrow airport, then a football match at Chelsea, after which he drives through London's most notorious red-light district".

The statistic's so memorable that everyone repeats it, generally not as "a Brit could be captured on up to 300 CCTV cameras a day" but as "the average Brit is captured on 300 CCTV cameras a day".

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/david_aaronovitch/article5834725.ece


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:54 AM
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I really don't get what's crazy about Shearer's 223.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:57 AM
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Seriously, pull my finger. I promise this is hilarious.

You guys are the best. The best!


Posted by: Pauly Shore | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:59 AM
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I think it's important to distinguish between the UK surveillance state, which is really pretty sinister, and driven much more by things internal to our political system* than by external public pressure

See, I would say that this is very much true of the US, too, except that it's less the major political parties than major industry stakeholders, and they're driving public opinion in order to get their priorities enacted. People are wetting the bed because they're told at every turn how scary the monster is. The political calculus in the UK (because of the system and because of recent history) is probably different -- much better to encourage citizens to keep strong and carry on and then do what you were going to do anyhow.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:01 AM
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259: I think perhaps it boils down to how one defines "as a direct result of the 911 attacks."


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:03 AM
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258 makes a good point. I've seen the CCTV claim debunked a few times, in a few places. But the relatively omnipresent nature of state surveillance is real.

re: 261

Yeah, I don't think the causal path works in quite the same way, but the end result and the cui bono element are basically the same.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:09 AM
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253: Sure, I'm skipping a few steps in the reasoning chain, but basically in both cases there is a lack of acknowledgment that there are self-interested powerful interests who exploit and drive the fear/overreaction. Associate Justice Scalia's is in fact the more intellectually dishonest and is more egregious by reason of appearing in a Supreme Court dissent rather than a blog comment.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:15 AM
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FWIW, I do generally resist the 'we are basically the same' current of thinking, though. In lots of ways we aren't.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:16 AM
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265: For instance it's already getting dark over there.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:21 AM
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The smartass in 266 is me.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:28 AM
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Stormcrow: the best! Who wants an autographed copy of Bio-Dome?


Posted by: Pauly Shore | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:30 AM
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re: 266

Dark already. And I'm in the south. Been dark a while in Scotland.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:39 AM
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No takers? How about Encino Man?

I! LOVE! THIS! PLACE!


Posted by: Pauly Shore | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:44 AM
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Been dark a while in Scotland.

Aye, more than three hundred years.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:45 AM
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Heh. Whenever I have that conversation with English friends it's hard to resist the "we invented fucking everything of importance you money-grubbing thick fuck" gambit.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:46 AM
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||

It makes sense for every powerful Republican to try to torpedo the economy, so that Obama will be blamed for the bad economy. Nobody in Washington seems to mind that. But the new strategy of torpedoing international relations so that Obama will be blamed for stolen nuclear warheads seems to be making people jumpy. At least when the "isolationists" were trying to lose WWII they could claim a consistent ideology. The new nihilist style of treason is just annoying.

|>


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:55 AM
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272: Fruitcake? I think not.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:57 AM
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re: 274

Not all fruitcake, but certainly some fruitcake:

http://www.rampantscotland.com/recipes/blrecipe_dundee.htm
http://www.rampantscotland.com/recipes/blrecipe_selkirk.htm


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 9:01 AM
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271 displays hitherto-unsuspected pro-independence sympathies from Sifu. It's OK, Sifu, Darien was bad for all of us.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 9:05 AM
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re: 276

It just occurred to me, there must be some dreich folk-song or other about Darien?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 9:07 AM
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Be the heuch! you want to see in the world, ttaM.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 9:08 AM
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Actually, there's an entire folk musical (dreichness I cannot vouch for) about Darien.
http://www.edinburgh-festivals.com/viewpreview.aspx?id=1961


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 9:10 AM
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My bonny lad, wha nae'r cam haem frae the isthmus-o ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 9:10 AM
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I defy you to find a rhyme for isthmus.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 9:11 AM
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And oor pitifu weans, wha hae nae gifts this christmas-o ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 9:13 AM
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273: They just don't give a shit about anything but the appearance of toughness. I've heard right wing hawks suggest that the US needs more nukes than Russia in order to serve as the world's policeman. The fact that the US already has enough nuclear firepower to end civilization as we know it is irrelevant to these people. It's all about dick waving.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 9:14 AM
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What's awful is that New START won't even win or cost Obama many votes. It's just fucking things up for the sheer joy of fucking them up.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 9:26 AM
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282 is inspired.


Posted by: Jackmo0rmon | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 9:30 AM
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I think they're (rightly) terrified of all the attack ads that will say "X voted with OBAMA to cut back our military spending!"


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 10:06 AM
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258: That's a busy dude.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 10:16 AM
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281: I remember an episode of the Little Rascals where the teacher asks one of the kids to use "isthmus" in a sentence. "Isthmus be my lucky day!"


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 10:26 AM
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OT: Wow. One of the Kardashian sisters* is built on an entirely different scale from the others.

* I hate myself for recognizing them on television.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 11:32 AM
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289: Well, those cabana-boy genes will out.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 11:37 AM
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289: Can you identify them individually by name?

If so, then you are correct to feel shame.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 11:40 AM
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Kim, Sleepy, and Boss Hogg, right?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 11:41 AM
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If any of the UK people are still around (or anyone else who wants to opine): any quick opinions regarding Kin/g's Col/lege L/nd/n? Wondering whether to apply for a job there. Their group in my field is tiny and deeply idiosyncratic. (I'm being diplomatic.) But I figure there are lots of other people doing interesting work not so far away (e.g. UCL). I'm wondering how generally respectable the school is considered, though.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 11:46 AM
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Clotho, Atropos and ... Agnes Moorhead?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 11:46 AM
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Weird. I was woken from a dream this morning in which I had to leap into a cold river at night to retreive several babies someone had carelessly tossed off a bridge. Why weird, you ask? The baby-tosser was BRUCE JENNER!


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 11:47 AM
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Man, you should have seen him toss them, though. Old boy's still got it.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 11:48 AM
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What woke me up was that after I brought several to shore I reentered the water only to find several lurking brown bears. Turns out they swim quite fast, and their flanking techniques are superb.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 11:54 AM
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Babies, Bruce Jenner, bears... Everything OK at home, Eggplant?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 11:55 AM
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295, 296, 297: Are you just laying the baba ghanush on us? Did you really dream all that?

And if so, do you watch The Kardashians?

Or are you old enough to have vivid memories of Bruce Jenner as a champion decathlete?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 11:57 AM
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Babies, Bruce Jenner, bears... Everything OK at home, Eggplant?

Are you kidding, Flippanter? That combo sounds pretty much perfect.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 11:58 AM
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No, yes, not if I can help it, and no.
In fairness to Mr. Jenner, the babies were in well-insulated flotation devices.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 11:59 AM
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I didn't even know there was more than one Kardashian.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:00 PM
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301 to 299.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:01 PM
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Can you identify them individually by name?

I can name two of them: Kim and Kourtney. I feel no shame: is it my fault that I cannot go through the checkout at the grocery without encountering the latest headlines concerning their ongoing battle-of-the-bikini-bod feud?


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:01 PM
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Not that kind of bear, Robust.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:03 PM
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222: Or, if you'd prefer to formulate the question as parsimon seems to, will more security theater make people so much more comfortable that if (when?) there's another massive terrorist attack in the US, the American people will have been so becalmed by all of the massages from TSA personnel that they won't call for more insane wars of choice.

I don't really want to revive this discussion, but ari's got my comments wrong. I have not said that more security will keep Americans from overreacting to a bombing. Rather, that while many people would rather not be subjected to the new security procedures, many of those same people would likely feel differently if a terrorist were to blow up a plane via underwear bomb. The narrative then, screamed loudly from every rooftop, would be: why the bloody hell didn't the TSA screen passengers for underwear bombs?

So the TSA has come up with a way to do just that, and it's not a lovely way. Whether it's merely security theater, i.e. unnecessary, as ari says, is a separate, and obviously pretty important, question.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:06 PM
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I feel no shame: is it my fault that I cannot go through the checkout at the grocery without encountering the latest headlines concerning their ongoing battle-of-the-bikini-bod feud?

There is usually a little wall of candy to peruse, in the alternative.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:06 PM
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Surely the poster linked in 248 isn't real?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:08 PM
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304: I was just messing with Flippanter. I think I even know the third -- Khloe, right? But I'm not sure which is Kourtney and and which is Khloe.

I don't ever watch the Kardashians show(s), but I do watch The Soup religiously, and that may be enought to qualify me as the resident expert on the topic.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:08 PM
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I can name two of them: Kim and Kourtney.

Khloé is the giant (5'10" vs. 5'2" and 5'0").


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:09 PM
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310: Apo brings the knowledge!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:10 PM
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You watch The Soup, I read wwtdd.com.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:11 PM
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310: Keeping track for posterity?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:11 PM
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Giant, schmiant. The Kardashians don't know from tall women.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:16 PM
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Giant, schmiant.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:20 PM
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315: Yikes. Which is the airbrushed-cleavage one in the middle?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:21 PM
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All I'm sayin' is that we mock my 5'8" sister as the short one. (But, yeah, she does look totally outsized next to her sisters.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:22 PM
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316: The one with the sex tape.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:24 PM
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You don't want to say that Kloé is "the giant." Kim and Kourtney are "the midgets"


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:25 PM
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I'm guessing that the giant, Khloe, is the one that married the basketball player. Am I right?

I'm sure that this kind of obscure information wouldn't be available on the internet.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:26 PM
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316: Based on her skin tone, I wouldn't say that the picture is airbrushed. I think the airbrush was applied directly to her cleavage.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:27 PM
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In fairness to Mr. Jenner, the babies were in well-insulated flotation devices.

So, he wasnt' trying to kill them? Some kind of a baby Moses-type situation?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:28 PM
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I think he was testing the flotation devices.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:30 PM
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I think the airbrush was applied directly to her cleavage.

America, fuck yeah.

Alternative: "I'll admit, that sweet tailpipe of yours did have me charmed. It put a spell on me. But all the ass-magic in Mexico can't change Kenny Powers from his core beliefs. Not an ass man. I'm a tit man. I like big ass boobs. Now, and forever."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:31 PM
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320: Khloé is married to Lamar Odom of the Lakers.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:32 PM
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323: Ok. That makes sense.

My original thought was that Mr. Jenner had travelled back in time and was killing off his stepdaughters as babies.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:34 PM
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324: What's an ass boob?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:34 PM
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Kim Kardashian, OTOH, seems to specialize in football players (Reggie Bush, Miles Austin).


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:35 PM
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327: Wait until you're older.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:35 PM
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google trends allows the examination of relative popularity of search terms all over the world. tits vs ass is instructive.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:36 PM
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Now I know what these Kardashians look like. But who are the Kardashians, and perhaps more important, why are the Kardashians? I suppose I don't really need an answer to that, any more than I need to know what the Dave Matthews Band sounds like.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:37 PM
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328: That leaves the baseball players for Kourtney, right?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:37 PM
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331: The Soup anchor used to always says that Kim Kardashian was famous for having a big ass and a sex tape.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:39 PM
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I thought that the bustiest of the three was initially famous for a really degrading sex tape with a pop star.

Haifa Wehbe is a better singer anyway, and raises the more interesting question: belly or small of the back?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:41 PM
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You don't want to say that Kloé is "the giant." Kim and Kourtney are "the midgets"

Wait, I thought the really tall one was Kobe.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:44 PM
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She was famous before the sex tape, wasn't she? Otherwise I don't see why it would have made her more famous than the zillions of other people with amateur sex tapes on the internet.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:45 PM
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||

Disappointed in someone new part 3,102.

Actually, though, this is infuriating. I reserve the right to be infuriated.

|>


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:45 PM
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What I watched of it didn't seem degrading. She just seemed to be enjoying herself, unlike Ms. Hilton.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:45 PM
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She was famous before the sex tape, wasn't she?

Pretty much only for being Paris Hilton's friend, IIRC.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:51 PM
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This thread misses Ogged.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:53 PM
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337: Keynes continues to spin in his grave. Someone, maybe Yglesias, said that it wouldn't be so terrible if they took the saved money and spent it on something else stimulative: it'd be a transfer from federal employees to some other group, but not a net injury to the economy. But of course that's not going to happen.

Signed, NYS employee whose salary has been frozen for over two years now, and will be indefinitely.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:53 PM
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Obama: incompetent negotiator, or willing collaborator?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:55 PM
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342: I think he was just desperate to do something to distract people from the wikileaks stories.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 12:57 PM
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337: I'm with you, man. It's a disgusting and, even by the standards of this administration, craven act. Also: utterly meaningless in terms of achieving its ostensible goal.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 1:00 PM
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even by the standards of this administration, craven act

This administration only has one consistent standard: never ever under any circumstances miss a chance to Sister Souljah a part of your base.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 1:03 PM
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343: That constraint doesn't dictate the policy content of the choice he made.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 1:06 PM
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345, however, does.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 1:06 PM
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Might have been better to freeze salaries only for those above pay grade X.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 1:09 PM
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I'm coming around to the point of view that someone needs to primary the fuck out of Obama. I don't know what good it would do, but it should be done anyway.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 1:11 PM
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345 to 348. It might have been better to put some sort of ideological counterweight to crazy-ass Alan Simpson at the head of the Entitlements Commission, but instead he chose a guy just slightly to the left of Zell Miller. This is now a well-established pattern. I'm not trying to out-McManus McManus here, but this is what Obama does every. single. time.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 1:14 PM
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I've no idea what a Kardashian is, but apparently Kloe is about an inch shorter than Mrs y, who is tallish, but very seldom the tallest woman in a crowd or even second. Anyway, not exactly giant.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 1:20 PM
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350: And I'm not going to try to defend the move, even though I grasp where it's coming from. Why he didn't choose to target the salary freeze to higher-level workers I don't know. Somebody boneheaded working for him, which might be himself.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 1:21 PM
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I'm reluctantly coming to the conclusion that Obama is not merely ill-advised but actually formally incompetent in some deeper sense that wouldn't for example be resolved if he woke up tomorrow and replaced Emmanuel with Russ Feingold.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 1:26 PM
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331, 51: I think one of them tortured Captain Picard.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 1:27 PM
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I've no idea what a Kardashian is

Armenia's diplomatic envoys to the American supermarket checkout counter. It's just come to light that they were also doing significant intelligence collection in the fields of How To Lose Weight Fast and Soap Opera Plot Twists.


Posted by: persistently visible | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 1:31 PM
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Krugman yesterday: "No wonder we're in such trouble. Obama must gravitate instinctively to people who give him bad economic advice, and who almost surely don't share the values he was elected to promote. That's what I'd call a structural problem."

actually formally incompetent in some deeper sense

He is part of an entire generation of Democrats who ought to have known better, but completely internalized all the Reagan bullshit back in the 80s and now apparently refuse to re-evaluate any of it.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 1:32 PM
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Is it too soon to blame Clinton for something?

But yes, bad economic advisors; and Emmanuel's gone now, so whoever's handling the optics, as they say, gets to receive the ol' squinty eye.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 1:37 PM
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one of two places I've flown since 9/11 with no security at all -- not even a metal detector. The other is in the Caribbean, but they have a metal detector when you arrive.

One of these?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 1:44 PM
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not merely ill-advised but actually formally incompetent in some deeper sense

One never would have expected that of a three term state senator who didn't finish one term in the US Senate. He is, nevertheless, a Nobel Peace Prize winner. So there.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 1:49 PM
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|| Fun! |>


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 1:49 PM
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Another theory -- Obama figures that whatever policy he chooses the Republicans will oppose him from the right. Therefore, he thinks the further he goes right the crazier the Republican response will be. Since, he is proposing a pay freeze, they will have to propose a pay cut and a hiring freeze. Obama will stand strong for the workers refusing to agree to a pay cut -- and then he'll compromise and it will just be a small pay cut.

I forgot what my theory was.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 1:54 PM
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359: Well, none of us has ever held any political office (I'm pretty sure that's true) and we all know better. So, what's your point, TLL?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 1:57 PM
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I was Student Council president in the 6th grade.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 1:58 PM
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363: Apo, I humbly apologize for my grievous error in 362. Do you prefer to be addressed as El Presidente?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 2:01 PM
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Obama will stand strong for the workers refusing to agree to a pay cut -- and then he'll compromise and it will just be a small pay cut.

From the perspective of the peanut gallery, it will be fascinating to see how this political theater plays out. I'm not seeing a pay cut in the future, think what you will of Obama's lily-liveredness.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 2:03 PM
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During your reign, how much lunch money did the council hand over to bullies?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 2:04 PM
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Why he didn't choose to target the salary freeze to higher-level workers I don't know.

This seems to presuppose that it's a good faith, sincere but sincerely mistaken, serious policy decision rather than a craven and transparently cynical gesture designed to appease the deficit hawks in the GOP.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 2:14 PM
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GWB refused to negotiate with himself. Obama has repudiated that approach so thoroughly that he negotiates exclusively with himself. It's change we can believe in.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 2:17 PM
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a craven and transparently cynical gesture designed to appease the deficit hawks in the GOP

(1) A salary freeze only for higher-level workers would have accomplished that, too.

(2) At this stage of the game, maintaining a belief that the deficit hawks in the GOP can be "appeased" through unliateral concessions would be somewhere beyond extremely stupid, getting into the realm of either insanity or deliberate evil.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 2:21 PM
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367, 368.2: Perhaps he is trying to appease the deficit hawks in his own party. Not that that is any more sensible.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 2:24 PM
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+1


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 2:24 PM
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@293: I'm wondering how generally respectable the school is considered, though.

It's one of the best universities in the UK or for that matter Europe. Just how good depends on your subject, but some departments have better RAE scores than their equivalents in Oxford or Cambridge.

The general warning that you'd be arriving into an environment where the government is trying to cut most of the teaching budget in higher ed has to stand, but if you want to join a British university and KCL would have you...if you're a climate scientist perhaps you should be at UEA or Reading, a production engineer or materials scientist in Warwick, a marine biologist or radio planner in Southampton, but unless you know somewhere is better for your specialisation, you'd go there.

Of course, it's a central London place. This has advantages - London! - but also disadvantages - London! But your students will be as bright as they would be in Oxbridge, and they won't make you have dinner with a lot of corpses in a silly outfit every thing.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 2:27 PM
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370: But, although there are a great many things wrong with that theory, let's start with the fact that it would be impossible for anyone both to (1) have an informed, good-faith concern about the deficit and (2) be appeased by a fucking salary freeze, which does basically nothing to affect the deficit (except insofar as it further marginally depresses the economy, and thereby increases the deficit).


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 2:28 PM
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No defense from me.

I'd guess that they've been polling parts of the Tea/Rep agenda, and mean to preempt the popular ones, and leave the Reps unable to shut down the government. I don't approve, but whether or not its incompetence won't become evident for quite a while yet.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 2:29 PM
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Also, that president. He's arrived in the area where the Onion headlines converge on reality.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 2:31 PM
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And 349 is right. I'm trying to think of the last thing this administration did that didn't make me furious. Honestly, I can't remember.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 2:32 PM
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Year 1 savings from pay freeze = $2 billion
2009 Wall Street bonuses = $20 billion
Projected damage from ideological triumph by the right = incalculable


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 2:38 PM
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376: Lily Ledbetter Act? Pulling a lot of troops out of Iraq?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 2:41 PM
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I have a relatively short memory.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 2:42 PM
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What about America Recycles Day? Surely you celebrated that?

(I was looking for national pickle week, but not very hard).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 2:51 PM
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378: Crawl under the covers, assume the fetal position, and rock slowly back and forth chanting, "McCain would have been so much worse." That's what I do between rants, anyway.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 2:55 PM
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"McCain would have been so much worse."

In real outcomes: yes, much. But psychological angst is driven as much by the variance between expected outcomes and real outcomes as by the real outcomes themselves.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 3:04 PM
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|| eyeglasses bleg

I left the optometrist today with prescriptions for 3 pairs of glasses (distance, near, near over contacts).

I could probably buy one pair in 2010 and another in 2011 through insurance, but the 3rd is kind of a hit.

I've been looking online a bit and have 2 questions:

1. What companies have people had good experiences with?
2. Has anybody ordered frames only and successfully gotten an optician to fill the script? One site says that prism lenses are too complicated for online glasses.

|>


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 3:05 PM
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I assume you know to stay away from DecorMyEyes.com. Beyond that, I've got nothing.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 3:07 PM
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383: 39dollarglasses.com. Seriously. Small selection, some ugly pairs, but, fergodssake, they're $39, and work a treat.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 3:08 PM
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372: Thanks. Just trying to get a general sense. In my field Cambridge, Oxford, Durham, and UCL are clearly better. (Charitably: align more with my research interests.) But it is London. Pay seems uncomfortably low; I don't know if that's a general feature of UK universities. Seems like it would make living in London difficult.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 3:24 PM
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Living in London with uncomfortably low pay sounds sort of terrible, no? Do they give you housing?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 3:27 PM
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What they will probably offer you will be a slab of classes to teach at hourly rates in order to pay your rent. And if you are in London, do be difficult and bitchy with your landlord. You do not have to accept wires hanging out of the walls.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 3:32 PM
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Just go to London, build a doomsday machine, issue a ransom threat, and Bob's your uncle re: salary. As a bonus, your physics henchmen will already have evil-sounding British accents.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 3:35 PM
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Well, by "uncomfortably low" I mean "starts at what I make now" (adjusting for exchange rate), and I don't know if summer salary works the same way in the UK. Livable, but saving would be difficult.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 3:38 PM
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Jesus, these book-smart nerds wasting their education for low pay. I just told you: Build a freaking doomsday machine!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 3:40 PM
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Also, if you build a giant palace with an underground submarine base, I am totally up for being general counsel of your evil enterprise. Just letting you know.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 3:41 PM
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383: 39dollarglasses.com and zennioptical.com are canonical. I have prescription sunglasses I really like from Zenni, that were about $20.

As for pay freezes: There are some possible weird effects. In the local transit agency, the unions have (smallish) pay increases baked into their contracts from a few years ago, but pay of the management-level employees isn't so protected and has been an easy target for cutting/not-raising, so they haven't had raises in something like eight years. As a result, there are many positions where being promoted from a union job to the management position directly above it would result in a pay cut. Thus, many management positions are going unfilled or managers are doubling up on their responsibilities. Not healthy.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 3:43 PM
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Frankly I just want to know if merit increases are banned, because I am awesome, but new.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 3:55 PM
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Not to be (unduly) argumentative, but:

Rather, that while many people would rather not be subjected to the new security procedures, many of those same people would likely feel differently if a terrorist were to blow up a plane via underwear bomb.

Why is whether or not the new procedures are necessary a separate question? Even accepting, arguendo, that the people objecting to the new procedures would feel differently in the face of a successful tighty-whitey bomb (they obviously haven't been swayed by the failed attempt),why does that projected reaction to a hypothetical incident matter? I think this is where I am misunderstanding your comments. If that reaction doesn't justify adopting the procedures, then so what?

Also, just to add some nuance, I do not personally have a problem with being subjected to such procedures, per se. My discomfort is with the steady whittling away of the constitutional protections at the core of our historical national values in the name of "security."


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 4:11 PM
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Not yet disappointed enough:

Barack Hoover

Ken Houghton said...

Given the already-large pay gap when one opts to work in the public sector, the only thing we can be certain of is that even fewer qualified people will be available, or will stay to provide institutional memory.

The Consumer Finance Protection Board, for instance, is DOA. Not to mention those long-standign Treasury vacancies.

I believe Obama's advisers Obama considers that a feature, not a bug.

...my edit

Long Think Piece ...by Paul Rosenberg

I am of course in an even longer-broader-think mode. I read about Latvia and Ireland and the UK. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the Capitalization of China may soon answer Zhou's question about "Too soon to tell about the French Revolution" Was it a good idea? Doesn't matter, it lost all in 1991. The good guys lost, and the fucking pigs won.

All the good stuff from the Enlightenment will, in the lifetimes of your children, be ground to dust under the black boot of unresisted Capitalism. You will mourn Lenin and Stalin.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 4:12 PM
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I support the pay freeze because it might lead to people in DC being as pissed off and miserable as everyone else, which in turn might lead to change.

OK, I don't really think that, but I do think that crass local DC-centric explanations are underrated for explaining what happens at a policy level in Washington. The prosperity bubble around DC is disconcerting and I think seriously lowered the amount of urgency which the Obama administration gave to macroeconomic policy (n.b. -- the urgency could not be denied when one's friends at investment banks were in urgent danger of losing their jobs). Actually, this is one benefit of huge numbers of Democratic staffers losing jobs in the most recent election; suddenly everything doesn't look quite so rosy if you're a 40-something centrist Democratic party insider with control over policy.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 4:14 PM
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||
Apparently Stuxnet did hit one of its specific targets--Iranian centrifuges.
|>


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 4:21 PM
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And the next time you get felt up in the airport, tell me again the the good guys won the Long War from the Bastille thru the Commune and the Winter Palace and the Fall of the Wall.

"Everybody knows the war is over"


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 4:22 PM
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steady whittling away of the constitutional protections at the core of our historical national values in the name of "security."

I probably don't disagree with you substantively on anything about how annoying the TSA is, but I hate this kind of completely fake law-office history. Do you mean the constitutional protections established during the roughly 10 year period when the Warren Court was trying to limit abuses by (mainly southern) police departments? Or the rest of American history, when those "constitutional protections" didn't exist at all? Or maybe the it-has-never-ever-existed point in American history when it was formally unconstitutional to conduct searches as a condition for being permitted to fly on a commercial airliner?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 4:23 PM
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400: I mean the constitutional protections established a couple hundred years or so ago when the Fourth Amendment was adopted banning unreasonable searches.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 4:29 PM
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But these searches are reasonable.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 4:33 PM
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Well, I don't see the TSA issuing general warrants or writs of assistance permitting the arrest of seditious material, which is in fact what the Fourth Amendment was designed to prevent against. Note that I'm not saying that it's unreasonable to apply the 4th amendment (or any other) as differently in context; I just hate the fake historicizing that members fo my profession so often engage in.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 4:36 PM
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Bite me.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 4:41 PM
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394. TJ: step and bonus are still allowed. Naturally this was the topic in my office today. But, since almost everyone is 15, they were blasé about it. Only loss for them is COLA. Me, I am a blood sucking contractor whose job has been in in-sourcing limbo for 18 months.

They were less blasé when I said that I thought Obama was way too conservative and too prone to preëmptive "compromises".


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 4:41 PM
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Bite me.

Then post the picture.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 4:43 PM
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Also, any federal employee can trade my raises over the past two years for their raises over the past two years. If they don't want to do that (and they are above G-10 or so), they should go complain to somebody who gives a shit.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 4:46 PM
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405, 407: yeah, I have little room to complain.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:09 PM
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403: Well, I don't see the TSA issuing general warrants or writs of assistance permitting the arrest of seditious material, which is in fact what the Fourth Amendment was designed to prevent against.

But you probably know the Fourth Amendment applies a hell of a lot more widely than just the specific instance that initiated it, on which grounds Di obviously wasn't engaged in "fake historicizing" and you're therefore being a dick. Right?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:10 PM
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applies a hell of a lot more widely

Well, it does under current doctrine, mostly thanks to the Warren Court (though, for almost all practical intents and purposes, not to searches conducted prior to boarding an airplane). My only beef is with the notion that there's some established, existent core of historic constitutional liberties that's being whittled away (which is a familiar, if largely innacurrate, trope of almost all constitutional lawyering) rather than a series of contingent decisions made about how best to balance privacy and security.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:14 PM
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So, what's your point, TLL?

My point was that we have elected one of the most inexperienced Presidents evar. My sarcasm did not drip enough, obviously. Better get that checked.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:17 PM
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Five decades of search and seizure legal precedent would seem to me to be pretty darn established and existent. Seems to me the only reason none of that precedent has extended to searches before boarding an airplane is because such searches hadn't become outrageous during that timeframe.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:19 PM
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Robert, Di beat me to the non-expert's response, so let me try to respond the way I imagine a lawyer might:

The fourth amendment was (obviously) aimed at preventing unreasonable searches and seizures by government authorities. The TSA is unambiguously a government authority. There's at least a colorable argument to be made that indiscriminate searches of this sort are "unreasonable." For instance, civil libertarian types got three votes for the proposition that random sobriety checkpoints are unconstitutional. And that was on the Rehnquist Court, with nary a Southern sheriff in sight.

So if you've got a beef, it isn't just with folks like me, but with the Warren Court (as you acknowledge in a backhanded way), and with Justices like Stevens, Brennan and Marshall, who were engaging in "fake law-office history" as recently as 1990.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:20 PM
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Haven't we had this argument here about a billion times already? And don't we all (Shearer excepted) basically wind up agreeing on our general philosophy of constitutional law? I'm still concerned with some of the related questions to this Kardashian business. For instance, I have seen tabloids blaring the news that "Amber" will "give up her baby". Who the hell is "Amber"? Am I supposed to know this? Does it have something to do with that hippity-hop music those young men are always playing in their too-loud car stereo systems?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:22 PM
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||

This would have been on-topic earlier in the thread, but apparently an old friend of mine (who also knows Julian Assange) is heading up a DARPA project to detect and stop defense department leaks. Like, you know, the ones fueling wikileaks.

That could make for some awkward moments the next time they run into each other at a barbecue.

|>


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:24 PM
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but I hate this kind of completely fake law-office history.

I must have missed the part where Di was claiming to offer a richly detailed and subtly nuanced historical narrative. Odd that you seem more annoyed with her than with the TSA, though.

And it's not completely fake. It's an admittedly oversimplifed narrative in the service of an obviously political and presentist aim. I actually think it could be historicized more complexly in ways that would still support Di's interpretation. Unless you're arguing for some kind of originalist interpretation of the Fourth Amendment, which would limit its application to "general warrants or writs of assistance permitting the arrest of seditious material" as those terms and concepts were understood by those living in late eighteenth- and early-nineteenth century America?


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:28 PM
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415: Tell your old friend that if he or she should run into Assange at a barbecue, the only possible course of action is to run to the grill and toss some official-looking papers on the fire.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:28 PM
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I mean, there are lots of other courses of action, but you'd really have to think to find a more amusing one.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:29 PM
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418: hand over a thick folder stamped "CLASSIFIED TOP SECRET" all over with an official pentagon seal and say "do. not. open. this. here." and then when he opens it says "I LIKE CAKE" written over and over in crayon?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:31 PM
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Who the hell is "Amber"?

I have no idea. But I'm almost certain she can't be a Kardashian, because in that case her name would obviously be "Kamber."


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:32 PM
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That could make for some awkward moments the next time they run into each other at a barbecue.

Non-rhetorical question: Does Assange begrudge the government its right to try to keep secrets?

There are a lot of inherently adversarial relationships that people are able to work out just fine.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:32 PM
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Maybe, pf!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:34 PM
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414: And don't we all (Shearer excepted) basically wind up agreeing on our general philosophy of constitutional law?

Yes.

No idea who Amber is, nor even who the Kardashians are; a race of beings on Star Trek, right?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:34 PM
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For instance, I have seen tabloids blaring the news that "Amber" will "give up her baby". Who the hell is "Amber"? Am I supposed to know this?

Amber is a reality TV "star", like the K sisters. Obviously an Assistant Under Secretary of in the Office of Circuses, a Major Office in the Department of Bread and Circuses. I forget who the Cabinet Secretary is.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:36 PM
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Di beat me to the non-expert's response

Um, "bite me" is a term of art. Geez, it's like no one around here respects my authoritative voice.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:37 PM
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421: oh, I'm sure they'd be perfectly entertained to run into each other. Hackers (even ex-hackers, like Assange is at pains to point out that he is) generally thrive on that shit, and anyhow, it's not like there's a "white hat" secret-keeping and a "black hat" secret-obtaining security community with no overlap between the two. It's the same people.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:37 PM
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414: I know this one! I read horrible, horrible magazines on the treadmill. Amber is one of the young women on some show on MTV about being a teen mom. And Amber has anger issues and beats on her baby daddy, who seems to be a nice enough mellow dude, but who spends his days on the couch playing xbox and eating fast food, it seems. Amber was recently arrested for the beatings she gives to the poor fellow.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:38 PM
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413 -- People are apparently misunderstanding me, perhaps because I'm being too cryptic. I'm not arguing against (or for) a broad application of fourth amendment jurisprudence. There may or may not be a basis for applying the fourth amendment in a more or less restrictive manner, to pre-boarding airplane searches. My only dislike, which applies in a lot of areas of constitutional law, is the notion that there's some kind of sound historical basis for believing that there is a long-standing privacy protection that is under attack, as opposed to the more ordinary question of how to apply the constitution in a contemporary setting.

"Law office history" is the practice of selectively reading the historical record to derive a train of historical-ish sounding precedent for the legal result one desires; it is a very common practice, and perhaps unavoidable, but one that I have a strong bias against snd try to resist wherever possible.

Broadly speaking, the current doctrine on airport search and seizure is that it's not unreasonable for Fourth Amendment purposes so long as the search is reasonably directed to discovering weapons, and the passenger retains the option to avoid the search by not flying. Whether and how that will apply in the future will be determined (in reality, if not in the language of a judicial opinion) by the determination of the courts as to the appropriate balancing between competing values of privacy and security, not by harkening back to some idealized version of the past.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:41 PM
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Thanks oudemia, that was 'sick'!

(Did I type that right?)


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:41 PM
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I support the pay freeze because it might lead to people in DC being as pissed off and miserable as everyone else, which in turn might lead to change.

The state with the largest percentage of federal civilian employees* is California at 8.4%. Together DC, MD, and VA (and that includes the Norfolk area) are 21.4% have the workforce. Total size of the workforce at the end of FY 2010 was 2,061,569.

* Not counting NAF employees, intelligence community employees, service members, weird things such as TVA and Amtrak, &c.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:45 PM
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I think what Halford is trying to say is that those who would give up essential Kardashians to purchase a little temporary baby mama drama deserve neither reality nor television.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:48 PM
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Perhaps the "Freedom pat" will evolve like the handshake, from a way that demonstrates that one is not carrying a weapon to a ritualized greeting.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:48 PM
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zennioptical.com doesn't do prism.


Posted by: Lemmy Caution | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:52 PM
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Only Natlio understands me. And I 'm not more annoyed with Di than with the TSA (or even annoyed with her at all, though the converse does not appear to be the case), she just tripped over a pet peeve.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:53 PM
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THAT PEEVE SHOULD BE ON A LEASH


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:55 PM
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||

Why Onomichi in Tokyo Story? Why did Ozu and Noda choose that city?

It is well preserved with beautiful temples, but not really unusual there, and Ozu doesn't really use that aspect of the city that much. Many of Ozu's shots of Onomichi show the aspect that confuses me:it is a modern industrial and shipping town, for centuries a rice export center. Part of Hiroshima Prefecture, but a good distance away. (It was a favorite town of Naruse's favorite woman novelist, Hayashi Fumiko, but Naruse was at another studio)

The city, and the prefecture, look good enough. Maybe like Galveston, Mobile, or Charleston. So why did the kids move so far away, to Osaka & Tokyo?

(Question came to mind while reading a book on Japanese sociology and class stratification, especially since 1990. Twenty years of disinflation. Not good. The property (esp land) class rules all, and because they dominate the prestige universities, and intramarriage, it is almost impossible to rise into that class. Mobility was much higher 40 years ago.)

(Oh. and the JCP gets about 7-10% of the vote)

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:57 PM
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434: Don't worry, Robert. I'm still more annoyed with the TSA than with you. But I do think your criticism is about as warranted as the Freedom Pats.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 5:58 PM
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Truth be told, I can't get too worked up about the TSA since the anti-TSA activists are too closely aligned with the real enemy: Libertarians.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:07 PM
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438 expresses a very annoying tendency.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:09 PM
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"I LIKE CAKE" written over and over in crayon?

Yellow crayon?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:12 PM
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431 is inspired.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:15 PM
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439 makes a good point.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:18 PM
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essear, everyone I've met from KCL has been a delightful, aggressive, and slightly wacky dinner companion. My equally inadequate sample of Oxbridgers finds less overt aggression and wackiness.

I think we need a minimalist composer to compose eight or ten parts of an aleatoric symphony for us all to sing in security lines. It needs to work with a subset of the parts going, and be different as they come and go. Like the game Auditorium, but longer.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:20 PM
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I really do think you have to make a separate argument that the Freedom Pats full-body scans are unwarranted, that is, unreasonable, before you can, you know, say that they're unreasonable, hence a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

But this has been said before. And I'm done.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:27 PM
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444.1: that's a good point, which of course is why that's where the discussion started, hundreds of comments ago, with a discussion of how they are not in fact useful as tools to stop high-casualty terrorist attacks.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:34 PM
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And I'm done.

But not without restating your non position, it seems.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:37 PM
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Yeah, I'm pretty tired.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:37 PM
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Had I seen Tweety's comment, I would not have posted mine. I apologize for inadvertently piling on.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:38 PM
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447: as is the world-weary, "why can't you all just be as reasonable as I can" act, parsi. With all due respect.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:40 PM
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I'm unreasonable and unwarranted in 48 states.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:40 PM
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Shit. Not piling on? Well, then consider 449 retracted. And with that, I'm done.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:41 PM
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Yeah, I'm pretty tired.

Comity! Also, my head really hurts.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:41 PM
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In the interest of helpfulness, I will link to a good summary by Bruce Schneier of his case against the vast majority of post-9/11 enhanced airport/airplane security measures, which I generally take to be dispositive.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:41 PM
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448, 451: geez, you guys are mean.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:42 PM
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443.1: Fun! I like aggressive wacky people. Don't think I qualify as one myself, though.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:44 PM
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Well, maybe you need to go. Maybe not: they may have been looking for quieter... listeners.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:47 PM
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Also, my head really hurts.

Mine too -- horrible headache all day long. Apparently I become peevish and lose all sense of humor in these circumstances. Apologies to all.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:50 PM
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422: And maybe not!

But that was a really interesting essay. The commentary among reasonable liberals regarding Assange reminds me, in an odd way, of the commentary about Joe Wilson during the Plame affair.

While we are supposed to acknowledge that Wilson did some good things, we also must accept that he was personally something of an asshole. I never saw the case plausibly made about Wilson, and I haven't (yet) seen the case plausibly made about Assange.

I want to ask Sifu, particularly, why (per 81) he thinks Assange "sounds like a tool."


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:51 PM
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Because he (allegedly) promises to use condoms and then doesn't?


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:57 PM
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460

The TSA's main problem seems to be deep incompetence (air-puff machines? the ridiculous liquids rule?). I personally would have no problem whatsoever with body-scanning machines if they worked; my ideal would be a machine that could scan your body and your bag at the same time, so that you didn't have to take the laptop out, although the TSA will never do that since a big part of the airport security system is just to make things generally disruptive and somewhat unpredictable.

For work-related reasons, I know a fair amount about the pre-9/11 screening system, and would never in a million years suggest we go back to that. Even an incompetent government agency is better than the semi-privatized, zero-accountability system we had before the TSA was founded.

The big question, as I'm sure someone pointed out in a comment upthread that I haven't read, is why we spend so much time on airplane security when there are so many other obvious avenues for a terrorist attack, a la Mumbai. "Security theater" is surely most of the answer, but it really does seem like terrorists have an obsessive love for commercial aviation: hijacking them, destroying them, interfering with them, etc. It's just sort of traditional. (I was struck in looking back at the pre-9/11 terrorism plans how many of them involved planes). So I do think that there's some real justification for a preboarding passenger screening system unique to airports -- but whether the full body scanning machines do much of anything useful doesn't really seem proven at all.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:59 PM
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You know what's more annoying than being groped by the TSA? Being kidnapped, flown to Afghanistan, tortured, and then released in a remote Albanian village because you name is "similar to" the name of someone on the terrorist watch list.

Wikileaks has data on the coverup. As far as I'm concerned, the more people who are thinking about civil liberties violations, the better.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 6:59 PM
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Just read the link in 453. I think he's way too positive about the pre-9/11 security system, but otherwise agree.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:02 PM
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re: 386

Living in London on a standard non-senior academic salary could be quite tough, but it depends what standard of luxury you require/expect, and as Alex says, there are often ways to pad academic salaries. I may be wrong re: salary levels in the sciences, though, which can be considerably higher than the humanities, I'd have thought?

I live in London, on an academic wage,* and I reckon I could just about meet my basic needs out of my salary alone -- a place of my own, not a total shit-hole, money for some socialising, booze, CDs/LPs/books, transport -- but it'd be a struggle and it'd mean living somewhere small/cheap and being canny. You'd not be rolling in middle-class comfort.

* I'm not a pukka academic any more, but I get paid on a related pay scale.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:03 PM
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453: That is a very good summary. Yes, it is security theatre, and a waste of time, money and other valuable resources. And the new measures (scannings and gropings) are also, imho, an unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the passenger's person.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:08 PM
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458.last: because he's a self-important, self-aggrandizing wannabe martyr with weird issues with women and stupid hair, and I know the type. None of which has anything to do with wikipedia or it's mission, which I largely support.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:18 PM
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463.2: Do you get bonuses or mug tourists?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:19 PM
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To clarify 460, I think an Israeli-like targeted approach to airline security, in which the effort goes into identifying likely terrorists rather than screening measures that mindlessly apply to everyone, would be both less intrusive (generally) and far more effective. That's what most of the security professionals seem to think.

A targeted approach does risk being abused, however, since the wealthy white businessman would no longer have to worry about the intrusiveness of the search. Such are the tradeoffs.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:19 PM
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465: It is hard to get somebody who isn't self-important and self-aggrandizing do to those types of jobs. Maybe we should send him a coupon to Great Clips?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:30 PM
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None of which has anything to do with wikipedia or it's mission, which I largely support.

But have you read the personal appeal from Jimmy Wales?

(Somebody really needs to do one of those banners with Assange's picture instead of Jimbo's.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:32 PM
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240

Public opinion matters in a democracy, yes. But in our particular version of a democracy, we have a constitution, and the bill of rights appended thereto, in recognition of the fact that our fundamental freedoms must not be dependent on public opinion for their protection.

As a distinguished jurist said, the constitution is not a suicide pact. And if I recall correctly the prohibition is of "unreasonable" searches and seizures. And don't you liberals believe in a living constitution? In which case shouldn't the meaning of unreasonable be influenced by contemporary public opinion?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:33 PM
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As a distinguished jurist said, the constitution is not a suicide pact.

Good point, another airline attack and we're folding up the country.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:36 PM
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As a distinguished jurist said, the constitution is not a suicide pact.

To be named later? Or did you want to let on which distinguished jurist that is?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:38 PM
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469: can I blame my phone?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:40 PM
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I like how James is defending decisions made on the basis of the will of the common, everyday person. Truly, James, you are the ideal representative of everyday folk against the technocratic elites of Unfogged.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:40 PM
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I think I've said this before, but closely identifying wikileaks with Assange, and then having Assange's faults stand in for wikileaks' would seem, among other things, to be one of the ways of discrediting wikileaks. Ok, that wasn't a clear sentence and it of course does not mean that Assange isn't deserving of criticism for his personal faults, but if I remember correctly, when wikileaks first came on the scene they really tried not to be identified with any particular individual in order to defend against this tactic. Didn't it take quite a while for someone to come forward to represent them when they were sued in 2008 over the release of banking documents? I'd look it up, but I'm busy pretending to look busy on a class assignment.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:43 PM
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"The constitution is not a suicide pact" (Link to wikipedia, whose mission I support even if Jimmy Wales has issues with women.)

More recently there is this. I would rather the author not be as distinguished a juror as he is, although Di has nice things to say about the way he runs his courtroom.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:45 PM
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The Israeli approach works in a small community with a single airport.

The Constitution has all that stuff in it, just waiting for a society and a court with the balls to enforce it. Our great good fortune is to live in the shadow of such a time. Unfortunately, it may not come around again in our lifetimes. Imagine what people felt trading in John Marshall for Roger Taney.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:49 PM
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478

Speaking of the release of banking documents...


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:52 PM
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473: Does it convince you when I blame my iPod?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:52 PM
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Imagine what people felt trading in John Marshall for Roger Taney.

Plus, we paid extra for the "anti-rust" coating on Taney's undercarriage.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:54 PM
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481

Officials charged with daily operational responsibility for our security may consider a judicial discourse on the history of the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 and like matters to be far removed from the Nation's present, urgent concerns. Established legal doctrine, however, must be consulted for its teaching. Remote in time it may be; irrelevant to the present it is not. Security depends upon a sophisticated intelligence apparatus and the ability of our Armed Forces to act and to interdict. There are further considerations, however. Security subsists, too, in fidelity to freedom's first principles. Chief among these are freedom from arbitrary and unlawful restraint and the personal liberty that is secured by adherence to the separation of powers.

. . .

The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times. Liberty and security can be reconciled; and in our system they are reconciled within the framework of the law.

So says some other jurist.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:55 PM
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480: strangely it was much more than just one letter away from "anti-trust" protection.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 7:56 PM
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I hate missing a bad pun. Shit.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:01 PM
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Stupid iPod, Moby. Stupid, stupid iPod.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:02 PM
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474

I like how James is defending decisions made on the basis of the will of the common, everyday person. ...

Not defending them exactly, just explaining how a democracy works which some of you seem to be a bit hazy on. Were I in charge I would do things quite differently but I doubt you all would be any happier.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:13 PM
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485: If you'd destroy the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, I might be happier. Depending on what else you did and how cheap wine got.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:15 PM
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472

To be named later? Or did you want to let on which distinguished jurist that is?

See 476. The quote is well known but I must confess I would have misattributed it.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:16 PM
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That was not a bad pun. Had you deployed it in your post, however, I bet even Stanley would have winced.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:18 PM
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When I make a pun, I'm trying to get people to wince. Why else make them?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:20 PM
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|| I wish I had a cell-phone jammer to use on the guy who is playing his phone call on hold on speakerphone in a public area. Your call isn't important to anyone, ok?

Oh never mind, he just walked away. But I'm posting this anyway. |>


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:21 PM
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Were I in charge I would do things quite differently but I doubt you all would be any happier.
Are you going after my red wine James? I will cut you.
OT: If essear, or an essear-equivalent, is still around, do you know of any tutorials on fourier transforms in curved space?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:22 PM
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Presidente Shearer will close your tags for you.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:24 PM
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In my heart I know I closed that tag correctly, but the evidence seems to suggest otherwise.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:25 PM
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Tags are stupid things.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:27 PM
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From 478:

The slim 39-year-old Wiki­Leaks founder wears a navy suit over his 6-foot-2 frame, and his once shaggy white hair, recently dyed brown, has been cropped to a sandy patchwork of blonde and tan.

Well, at least this.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:29 PM
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His hair is magical.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:32 PM
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491: Can you be a little clearer about what you mean by "fourier transforms in curved space"? To me it kind of sounds like asking what the value of pi is in hyperbolic space; "Fourier transform" is a mathematical widget that doesn't really make reference to "space". If you mean some analogue of decomposing something into plane waves that instead uses functions that live in representations of a different group more suited to particular non-flat spaces, I can try to think of something. (Although I kind of want to say "that's all of physics", and even in flat space you have things like spherical harmonics that are analogues of Fourier series that manifest a different set of symmetries.) Um, this is useless, isn't it? If you can try to sharpen the question I can try to come up with something.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:34 PM
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497: If you could have held out a bit longer, we could have found out who is equivalent to you.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:37 PM
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I mean, I guess generally things like "harmonic analysis" or "spectral theory" are things you might want to look into if you're interested in generalizing Fourier analysis.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:38 PM
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IANACS, and of course, IAAA, but it seems to me that this whole "not a suicide pact" idea is a bit of a category error. Is it reasonable to say that the government, acting in its maximal capacity, could prevent every negative consequence, if only it were given enough power? Of course not. But if we use this "suicide pact" language, that's exactly what we're proposing (see also "ticking time bomb" defenses of torture.)

Looking at the history of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Articles of Confederation and the Declaration of Independence, we see a consistent bias in favor of strong limits on the power of the state. We're talking about people who had just fought a pretty serious war against the principle of an all-powerful state, and in favor of the principle of individual and collective action against injustice. Much blood had been spilt. To claim, as Jackson did, that preventing the exercise of state power is a "suicide pact" then becomes absurd. How else can you possibly make a case for the Third Amendment, except by recognizing that, for the Convention, the exigencies of combat are subordinate to a person's right to be at peace in their own house?

Once we apply the "suicide pact" ideal to the rest of the Bill of Rights, we're left with a document that's totally nonsensical -- the government can't take your guns for no reason, UNLESS it really needs to; they can't force you into double jeopardy, UNLESS they really need to -- it's ridiculous, why even have a Bill of Rights at all at that point? The only way it makes sense is to read it to mean that the government CAN'T simply say "O noes, ticking time bomb!" every time it wants to, EVEN WHEN there might actually be a ticking time bomb lying around. Because the price of some lives lost is small compared to the price everyone pays if freedom is lost.

Anyway, I'm sure lots and lots of people have argued that point more eruditely than I have, but within the procedural liberal bounds of the discourse here, that's how I see it.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:47 PM
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Yes, 500. And the Declaration was a suicide pact.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 8:57 PM
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Hmm, this was probably a bad time to ask, as I'm going to have difficulty explaining what I actually mean, but here goes. I'm not looking for explanations of harmonic analysis on generic groups (at least, I think I'm not). I think what I'm interested in can be reduced to fourier transforms on irregularly sampled euclidean space.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 9:01 PM
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501: That's partly why I like it, except for the bit about the Native Americans.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 9:03 PM
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Our plan to defend this hill isn't a suicide pact.


Posted by: Opinionated Deluded Guy on Masada | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 9:04 PM
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A better line from Jackson's dissent in Terminiello: No mob has ever protected any liberty, even its own, but if not put down it always winds up in an orgy of lawlessness which respects no liberties.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 9:07 PM
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502: I'm not sure I know anything useful about irregularly sampled Fourier transforms, if that's what you're after. Maybe try lighting the Cosma-signal?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 9:26 PM
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Yeah, that's not where I started off, but after some thought I think it's equivalent. Off to play with some new search terms!


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 9:33 PM
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I warn you, he's Fourierist!


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 10:00 PM
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508 to no one in particular. Also, I messed up the quote.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 10:01 PM
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I'm curious about what you started off with and how it's equivalent, if you can somehow gesture at it in a comment without wasting too much of your time or revealing seekrits or something.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 10:01 PM
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510 to 507.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 10:01 PM
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When I was young I was terribly confused about how to pronounce "Fourier" after some math competition gave us hats or something that read "Math is good Fourier mind."


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 10:03 PM
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||

Anyone need a place to stay for MLA? The DE and I were going to offer, so I will now. There's one bed, one couch, and one futon pad thingy.

You must be able to breathe after exposure to cats. You must be able to get in and out of the front door without letting the cats wander off.

More in email.

|>


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 10:04 PM
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500 is excellent.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 10:04 PM
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I remember being puzzled that Euler and Euclid started with different sounds. Then I said "oy-clid" a few times just for fun, because I was weird.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 10:05 PM
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500 is very good. I will use it, I'm sure.

513 is very generous. I hope the Modern Linguists here (and groupies) can take advantage.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 11-29-10 11:06 PM
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Good point, another airline attack and we're folding up the country.

See, from outside it looks like they already did that between September 2001 and some time in 2005. The country was quite big and resistant to being folded, but they managed in the end.

Has it occurred to you that people like yourselves may be a bit like the Roman intelligentsia in Gothic Italy or Spain in the last years of the fifth century, carrying on busily being Roman, writing Roman literature and practicing Roman law, although the countries they lived in had long since ceased being Roman in all but the most tenuous sense?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 1:17 AM
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Living in London on a standard non-senior academic salary could be quite tough, but it depends what standard of luxury you require/expect, and as Alex says, there are often ways to pad academic salaries.

I hear there's good money to be made down the docks, doing favours for sailors.


Posted by: S. Baldrick | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 2:08 AM
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510: No seekrits, just was moderately drunk. I started with a scalar function on a Riemannian manifold. I see now that what I need to read about is the Laplace-Beltrami operator and its eigenfunctions. I was stuck at a google local maximum.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 3:27 AM
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I must say that really wasn't how I was accustomed to spend my drunken hours.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 4:33 AM
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If I can't pester imaginary people with my mathematical gibberish while drunk, when can I?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 4:53 AM
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When you're dusted. Also, any time you're on public transportation.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 5:11 AM
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||

This is awesome. Totally SFW but better with the sound enabled and high.

|>


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 5:14 AM
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I look forward to senility, when I can do so all the time.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 5:15 AM
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524 to 523.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 5:20 AM
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I'm beginning to look backward at senility. And then do so again five minutes later, it goes without saying.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 7:43 AM
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Miss TSA pinup calender Semi NSFW


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 9:45 AM
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