Have you ever caught anyone or anything?

Next time you go to an airport, see if they ask you to step behind a screen to disrobe. Bending down and touching your toes while naked may be optional.

Also the goon examining you? Don’t worry, he promises to not keep that photo he just took with his cell phone of you. You can be assured, if the TSA does catch the alleged offender, they promise that nothing will happen to that person, no one will ever hear about it, and there will be no investigation.

Don’t worry, this always worked in the movies

Years ago, after 9/11, buildings that I worked in had installed airport style x-ray machines. When you came in you put your bag on a conveyor and ran it through the machine. Bored security guards would look and pretend to be interested. I don’t recall 100% but I don’t think you had to run your coat though the machine.

I’m a friendly talkative guys and I got to know the security guards. I stood next to them, saw what they saw while they did their work and when no one was around I just asked them: did you ever find any weapons or anything illegal?

They never caught a thing. I asked them because occasionally even night club security will turn up knives and small-caliber handguns. No joke, while the machines were there they x-rayed thousands of bags and never had one hit.

But there was a press conference so it must work

For many companies the x-ray machines were not about security. Those companies got a significant discount on their building insurance just for having them. Those machines were part of a profit center. Since I no longer have to do this (for years), I’m guessing that the insurance companies wised up to the scam.

The full body scanners installed in JFK are just like that except there is no discount to the airlines, consumers, or airport. It’s one of those things done to advance the idea of Security Theater and does not do a thing to make traveling by airplane safer. It’s not as ridiculous as the bottled water ban (seriously, bad guys wont be able to sell “compromised” water in the concession stands?) but it sure is more expensive.

What makes this more offensive is that to pass through this is to submit to a strip search. The TSA can (and does) dress this up as something else but that’s what it is. Every time you submit to this you are permitting yourself to be strip searched.

It doesn’t matter that their survey show that 98% of the passengers opted to be x-rayed instead of physically molested by untrained guards. The reason it does not matter is that the survey only reflects the passengers desire to get past the security theater portion of their trip quickly.

The TSA respects your rights, now shut up and get in line

NOTE: I would easily wager that 98% of the TSA staff at the airports are professional, polite, and patient. Except for seeing my wife and all other Asians randomly racially profiled in Dallas again, I expect to meet and deal with more TSA professionals. But I also expect to encounter that 2% and strip searches sure wont help.

Here are some questions that would be nice to have answered by example.

  1. What protections does the TSA provide/implement to prevent abuse?
  2. What are the penalties for the convicted abusers?
  3. What is the TSA’s success rate, their hit/miss ratio?
  4. If anyone can opt out (and I hope many do) how will the TSA penalize the people who opted out?
  5. Will opt-outs be accidentally be required to miss their plane?

I won’t submit to a strip search and will not let them scan my children either. If I get physically assaulted patted down by a screener what remedy do I have besides none?

The TSA security guards are not law enforcement, they are not trained police officers. I don’t care how emboldened their TSA shoulder patch makes them feel, they are the equivalent of bank guards.

“Really pushes my buttons”

I’m driving my 8-year-old son to the train station to pick up his mother after work at the train station. He’s telling me about a kid that bothered him in school last year.

Him: Dad, he made me very upset. He really pushes my buttons.

Me: Well, try not to get worked up. If you lose your temper you’ll be in trouble.

Him: Yeah but he really pushes my buttons, you know? He really does push my buttons.

Me: When did you start saying “pushes my buttons”??

Him: I heard you say it today.

I was working from home that day and had to deal with another fine example of social darwinism. Later on while speaking to someone I said that phrase and my son picked it up.

Little kids do not miss a thing. Good thing he didn’t hear the more acerbic comments I sometimes make…

It’s the goofy user avatars that threw me off

My participation in the WordPress support forums was never overly ambitious. I would generally aim for questions that I could either respond to quickly or I had the time for. But for the last few months I have been refraining from picking up threads. Mostly because the questions fall under these categories:

  1. Something broke please help me fix it! (User provides no info to find out what happened, gets belligerent when asked for more info)
  2. How do I make my site look like this one? (User points to professionally made site that may not be running WordPress)
  3. I can do this on WordPress.COM, it should/must/has to work on WordPress.ORG’s version. (User points to feature that requires one or more plugins and was never built-in)
  4. Demands that !!WordPress!! fix! this! NOW!!! (Who do they actually mean? Automattic?)
  5. Philosophical debates re GPL and commercial success.

You get the idea. These are not new types of questions and the support forum has had these from day one.

What’s new is that the volume of these questions obscure the really good support problems that are out there. It’s like there is a vast tidal wave of people who really do not know that they are running a roll-your-own version of WordPress. They don’t know about requirements, reasonable expectations, or how to troubleshoot their own server. Sounds like a problem alright! But it’s not.

This is confirmation that WordPress is wildly successful.

WordPress has moved from being a PHP hackers pet blogging software and into a mainstream software product. These new users in such huge quantity means that WordPress “made it”. These users are along for the ride and the WordPress forum regulars (moderators and support ninjas) have these requests well in hand.

The support forums continue to evolve and will deal with the flood of new users. Everything moves and changes happen all the time to make the support experience better. I have just one request.

Can the WordPress support forums please lose the new default user icons? The MonsterIDs are freaking me out.