Monday, January 16, 2012

Assorted Stuff

Eviscerated? Was that the proper term for the recent BOS budget hearings as it relates to the town IT Director? Sure seemed that way to me.

The BOS repeatedly sympathized with the plight of various departments that have been picked clean through the years. Fiscal issues made the various wish lists just that - a wish.

The G & E got a mention as a potential revenue source. Be interesting how that campaign for new commissioners shapes up.

The federal mall cops known as the TSA have defended their policy of cupcake confiscation. A woman had her cupcake taken since it was packed with frosting and that constituted a gel. She had already gone through the security check point at Fortress Logan which in a rare moment of TSA logic allowed her in. Probably too busy groping for colostomy bags. But the sharpshooters at another TSA local managed to place the goodie under scrutiny and it was nabbed. I also understand that at the same location a black powdery substance in a Dunkin’ Donuts bag was confiscated and brewed to be tested with the offending cupcake. We can all sleep well tonight knowing America is guarded by the brave mall cops of TSA.

Bill Keating will have some primary competition with Sam Sutter getting in the race since as a redistrict he considers it “An open seat.”

Marc Pacheco will not run for Barney Frank’s seat (maybe I should phrase that differently) and will support JoJoJo (or J3) Kennedy. I wonder if that will fly as well as his support for Brunelle did?

Romney’s net worth is greater than all the other candidates and The Big Zero combined.

Verizon is amazing. Since 8/21 I have been attempting to have a bill and service corrected for an organization I belong to. I have spent over 20 hours on the phone - mostly listening to pre recorded messages and have at least fifteen e-mails in my folder. They finally managed to correct it.

Sheldon Adelson of casino fame has contributed over 5M to the Gingrich campaign.

Not a good day to be a Bronco fan.

Great day to be a Giants fan.

That Italian cruise ship is the Exxon Valdez with people.

I had a story on a sidebar a few months ago about a poor soul on the North Shore who while defenseless decided to protect his property from an armed (knife) assailant who wished to make off with the victims tools. When the cops showed up the perp had a busted jaw and was being restrained by the victim. Naturally in Massachusetts the victim gets an assault charge. That was finally dropped after excessive public outcry but one thing became clear - In Massachusetts you have very thin links on just how you can react when you see a perp making off with your goods or even if you are threatened. Amazing.

With today’s technology there should be zero toll takers. Mass Pike has long been a dumping ground for pols who wish to reward or get a relative a job.

Middleboro has a new School Super and she appears highly qualified but IMO this is a classic three and out situation. Three big earning years really help that pension kiss. I have seen that many times. Maybe she can move to NH and grab another gig?

One way around getting the kiss and then grabbing another job as a super out or in state is to have a simple non competitive agreement worked into the contract. Simply state that if you retire from our system you do not accept a similar position in another state or a similar position (compensation is limited according to pension rules) in state. Done in the dreaded private sector.

The rotary issue just goes on and on and has been a problem for at least 50 years. It appears that the various politicos and state agencies are adept at saying all the “right things” but it never goes to the next level.

The Patrick administration is discussing “revenue sources” despite about a billion extra in revenues. IMO they will try and try again to get an addition to the gas tax.

According to The Heritage Foundation and WSJ the United States has slipped to number nine in world economic freedom. Hong Kong is number one. So looks like unbridled communism is doing rather well.


Hal Brown said...

I agree about the toll system. I public information about the Fast Lane EZ pass would be cost effective. Lot's of sporadic travelers either don't know about it or think it costs them a fee in addition to the toll.

The cameras are already there for people who blow through without paying, so just put up signs that tell drivers that they whoever the plate belongs to will be billed double the toll if they don't have an EZ Pass.

As for TSA at Logan, try Boise Airport, not exactly an international hub. There flyers have to go through the new full body backscatter x-rays, otherwise known as virtual strip searches. You aren't even allowed to have a loose Junior Mint in your pocket.

It is ranked 76th in passenger enplanements among U.S. airports.

For more on full body x-ray scanning this in an interesting article. Logan has a special mention:

TSA Expands Behavioral Profiling at Boston Airport: The Transportation Security Administration has begun training screeners at Logan International Airport in Boston to engage in behavioral profiling of air travelers. The program authorizes Transportation Security Officers to ask airline passengers personal questions concerning their travel plans and employment. Some travelers will be subjected to additional, invasive searches based on their responses.

I've taken the Logan Express bus to and from Braintree and wonder about the ability of many of the TSA screeners to learn the complex art and science of passenger profiling.

I wonder what my next profiler will cast me as since I am traveling lighter and lighter, and expect that on my next flight as usual I won't check baggage, and will will carry nothing but my iPhone, iPad and earphones.

Everything else I need I will mail to or buy at my destination.

An Old Codger said...

It seems that our tax dollars would be better spent by following El Al's approach to screening possible terrorists. Their agents are trained extensively in spotting behavioral anomalies in lengthy interviewing sessions of each traveler. I don't think anyone can argue with the Israeli's safety record.

Hal Brown said...

Here's a good CNN article about how El Al handles airline security.

Think about the TSA personnel you'd observed or interacted with and consider this quote:

We must look at the qualifications of the candidate for security jobs. He must be educated. He must speak two languages. He must be trained for a long time, in classrooms. He must receive on-the-job training with a supervisor for weeks to make sure that the guy understands how to approach a passenger, how to convince him to cooperate with him, because the passenger is taking the flight and we are on the ground. The passengers have to understand that the security is doing it for their benefit.

We are constantly in touch with the Israeli intelligence to find out if there are any suspicious passengers among hundreds of passengers coming to take the flight -- by getting the list of passengers for each flight and comparing it with the suspicious list that we have. If one of the passengers is on the list, then we are waiting for him, he will not surprise us.

During the year, we did thousands of tests of our security guys around the world. It cost money, but once you save lives, it's worth all the money that the government gave us to have the right security system.

An Old Codger said...

I would not consider the TSA oafs I encountered at several airports to be either well trained or persuasive in getting passengers to cooperate in a calm manner. They certainly are not extensively trained in profiling. I have watched some agents bully elderly and disabled passengers through their screening techniques. And IMO full body scanning or pat downs of all who are boarding is ineffective and irrelevant.

El Al agents have all passengers report to the terminal 3 hours early. Each passenger is calmly and respectfully interviewed individually by very experienced profilers watching passenger's physical reactions as they answer a series of questions. If the passenger sends up red flags, then and only then is he/she physically strip searched which would include every orifice of his/her body. El Al sees no purpose in violating obviously innocent passengers (99%) in this way.

When the passenger presents their documents for boarding passes, a sticker showing he/she passed through security must be attached. At that time the passenger's name is cross referenced with the plane's list plus Interpol, the FBI, and Canadian authorities.

This process has resulted in only one air incident in 30 years, the best record in the world. In contrast, the American method of full body scanners and pat downs is flawed. Also, I do not believe that several weeks of training is nearly enough to qualify an agent as a profiler.

anonymous said...

The TSA are their own worse enemies. Some of the searches they conduct are classic knucklehead. WTF are some of those agents think?

Hal Brown said...
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Hal Brown said...

corrected typo in previous post:

I neglected to add a few elements to my new method of avoiding intrusive TSA attention. Make of it what they will, I will be one of the few passengers not only with no checked baggage, but with no belt, no wallet, and believe it, if I could avoid wearing shoes - aka Richard Colvin Reid memorial Nikes - I would do that too.

I will put a rubber band around my passport and that will be my wallet containing whatever credit cards I think I'll need and maybe a @20 bill.

Of course, despite and perhaps because of traveling so lightly, they might mistake me as a "you know what" who was trained personally by "Imi" Lichtenfeld in Krav Maga.

Of maybe in I've been tutored in verbal karate by Don Rickles or in giving the Isabat al-’ayn by descendants of I.F. Radov.

Those items and as I said before, my iPhone, iPad and new Bose noise canceling earphones all carried in a big zip lock transparent bag.

Suo Mynona said...

You need someone to make change at the toll boths.

Suo Mynona said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LMAO said...

Some will never change, Suo.

bogofree said...

Don Rickles is a very fine actort. First time I saw him in a serious role was in The Twilight Zone. Jack E. Leonard and Rickles were the insult comics of their day. Never did a thing for me.

A few years ago we were making a connecting flight out of Boston that landed in NYC. May have been JFK? Anyways, you had to go through security again. Bizarre. But we had a flight to catch and the line was long - very long. I could hear them announcing our boarding so I asked folks in front - showing my pass - if we could jump in front. "No problem" was the response until a TSA "agent" stepped in and demanded we return to the end of the line. I explained the situation and his answer was "nope." We missed our flight. AA got us on a later fight and explained "This happens all the time." With an hour to kill I spoke to a supervisor who claimed "I witnessed both of you out of control and swearing." Total joke. I wrote to TSA several times. No response.

I have seen TSA on several occasions just about strip search someone. IMO they have some folks who need to be cut from the herd.

On another flight out of Boston a few TSA agents were asking who needed to board ASAP (we were in that group) and they rushed us through. Some do have a clue and common sense. Wrote a letter on those two agents praising them. Quickly got a response from TSA. Bunch of frauds.

Hal Brown said...

Just watched a commercial I'd nominate for one of the best of recent times. It was for the AWD Audi. Quite appropriate for our first real snow of the season.

I miss most commercial since the only live TV shows I watch are morning talk shows and evening talk.

Finding this one with Google I see that Audi is known for its clever commercials.

See Unhappy tow truck driver

Turns out that the actor, Dave Florek playing the frustrated tow truck operator in the Audi Ahab series has a nice gig with Audi.

North Slope Rigger said...

Very nice commercial. Hal, and they did make the car white.

Well it may be a Giants and Patriots Super Bowl.