View 755 Tuesday, December 25, 2012
For those who have asked, I’m all right. I did manage to bash myself a bit Friday which has slowed me down, but it’s nothing serious and I’m recovering nicely. We had a good Christmas, both by Skype and with Frank and his partner who drove in from Texas to spend the afternoon with us, and all’s well.
I found this amusing:
I should be back in business tomorrow. Have a great week.
And for your contemplation:
TSA Agent Blows Whistle
It’s nothing that we — and millions of Americans and millions of foreigners — did not already know, but maybe having a TSA worker repeat it will clue in millions more.
A former TSA screener turned blogger who is now causing embarrassment for the federal agency has revealed that TSA officers routinely laugh at and make fun of passengers’ nude body scanner images in back rooms.
In a blog entitled Taking Sense Away, the anonymous ex-TSA worker reveals how he, “Witnessed light sexual play among officers, a lot of e-cigarette vaping, and a whole lot of officers laughing and clowning in regard to some of your nude images, dear passengers.”
The revelation was in response to a reader who asked, “Tell us, please, what really happens in that private room and why the TSA does not want it seen in public nor recorded.”
The ex-TSA screener also ridiculed the existence of I.O. rooms (image operator rooms) where naked images produced by body scanners are viewed by TSA agents.
“The most ridiculous thing is that these I.O. rooms even exist, to begin with. The backscatter machines are useless, as I and many, many others have previously pointed out. They should never have been put into use to begin with; TSA officers should never have been viewing nude, radiation-rendered images of passengers in those private rooms, period,” he writes.
“That’s why there are federal lawsuits pending against TSA (Ralph Nader, Bruce Schneier, et al) and why TSA is trying to backpedal and sweep the radiation scanners under the rug away from oversight committees and the public at large, as quickly as possible, right now. The entire thing was, as usual, a hare-brained, tax payer money-wasting, disaster of an idea.”
In a separate blog post, the whistleblower explains how TSA higher-ups are fully aware of the public’s disdain for the agency and that, the, “TSA is the laughing stock of America’s security apparatus,” with most employees desperate to transfer into a more respected government agency.
The whistleblower also highlights how TSA screeners would punish passengers who displayed a bad attitude by subjecting them to pointless bag searches with zero justification.
You can work with those harassment devices, however. I won’t get into the details, but smart people will figure out ways to make the harasser wish that he’d never harassed you. Many professional and bureaucratic remedies exist; you can apply the same for devastating effect.
Joshua Jordan, KSC
Nothing unexpected, of course.
I have been talking to my son Frank who does various commercial advertising stuff. There is an interesting situation involving vaccinations and inoculations and compensation for those who ( several per million ) have really terrible reactions to them. Statistically if you give essentially any immunization whatsoever, a few people per million are going to have terrible reactions – possibly fatal. It’s not the “fault” of the drug company. It’s not incompetence or bad manufacturing practice. It’s just the way the world is.
The law that compensates these people is from about 1986 and is based on Reagan administration – actually more on Carter administration – data. I charge is made for every vaccination, and the funds go to compensate victims of vaccinations. It is possible to refine this some and come up with some predictions about who will have a larger probability of something awful happening if they are immunized, and to tie those probabilities a little closer to the specific immunization. It’s tricky. It involves careful data collection and meticulous work. It doesn’t take brilliance – at least that won’t be necessary although brilliance might make it faster and cheaper – but it will take thorough and careful work, and a lot of careful record keeping, and supervision. All that costs money, but it’s research worth doing. Some of the money is available in the funds appropriated for compensation: the fund is financed by a flat fee on inoculations, and has grown faster than intended, so some of the money might be available to appropriate as research.
On the other hand, this is the kind of research project that can be done by existing grant supervision agencies: it just needs the money and some careful attention to the research grant terms and work statements. I suggest that there are plenty of US government activities that could be abolished and money saved by declaring those doing needless jobs as redundant. Bunny inspectors come to mind, but perhaps there wouldn’t be enough saved by sacking the lot of them. Couldn’t hurt to do it of course.
But given the above story and other materials we see in the news, may I suggest that the TSA could spare a lot of money for some needed research that might actually save lives? It’s not as if the TSA were so very good at what it does.
More another time, but it’s something to think about.
I have not time to write at length on this, but what I am doing here is making a case for some immunizations as a public good. I recall growing up with compulsory smallpox vaccinations; they killed a small number of children every year, but they had the desired effect of making smallpox rarer and rarer for the immunized and susceptible alike. In those days diphtheria was a dread disease that killed a lot of children every year. The immunizations essentially eliminated it as a conscious public threat, although it’s still out there ready to come back if there’s a large enough population of susceptible children – it’s a concentration thing. The Iditarod race came out of getting vaccines through the snow and ice in days before airplane deliveries.
I understand that requiring someone to be vaccinated is an encroachment on freedom. I know the arguments; but the issue was settled before any or us were born, and few of you grew up in a time when major epidemics were not only common but inevitable. By my time smallpox was no longer a danger because most of us were immunized but polio season came every year, and we were all terrified when it came. Schools and summer camps closed, there were quarantines – almost every year in Shelby County Tennessee.
But any time you have mass immunizations some will die of allergies. Some will be badly injured. If you want freedom from smallpox and polio you cannot rely on suing the drug makers. The 1986 law approaches this by taking the compensation requirement away from the drug people and the Tort bar, and making government responsible. Even so some will be harmed; it seems an ethical obligation to minimize that number, and as our science gets better being able to predict those likely to be harmed by immunization gets better – but the research is expensive and isn’t particularly romantic, it just requires meticulous preservation and analysis of date, lots of patience, and money.
I think we would all be safer if we had research grants on finding ways to identify people likely to have a bad reaction to immunizations; and I suspect we’d save a lot more lives than the TSA inspectors are saving. Certainly per dollar spent.
More another time.
© 2012, jerrypournelle. All rights reserved.