Saturday, November 20, 2010

You Only Get *One* Pageview: Make It Count

So, yesterday, some blogger decided to use twitter to drive traffic to their site. Specifically, the link they posted was about the poor, beleaguered TSOs that are stuck having to implement the TSA's regressive policies.

Now, don't get me wrong, I understand that, yes, the TSOs "are human beings, too". And, yes, I get that many find things about their jobs that they don't like. Point of fact, most, if not all, people have parts of their jobs they hate. Many people utterly despise their jobs. Many people love their jobs. Most of us fall somewhere along that love-hate spectrum - frequently, all across it, depending on when you ask. So, yeah, "I get it."

That said, when I've hated jobs, I've typically sought and found other, less soul-crushing ways to earn my living. It's what you do if you want to stay sane. It's what you do if you don't want to poison the rest of your life. And, yes, many times, I've had to suck on the poison-pill while I wait for that next job to come along that alleviates my need to deal with the odiousness of whatever the job I seek to escape is.

All that aside, I don't pity the TSOs their positions. They're employed voluntarily. They can leave any time they want - after all, they're employeees, not slaves or conscripts. If they hate that they have to grope people, if they go home crying, every day, because of the verbal abuse meted out to them in response to what they say or do to passengers, then quit.

Chances are, the reason they're crying or just feeling bad is that they know that what they're doing is wrong. Providing the excuse of "just following orders". And, no, it's not unfair for passengers to say that the TSOs are acting like Nazis. At the N├╝rnberg Trials, some variant of "just following orders" was a fairly popular defense (Adolf Eichmann being one of the most famous for employing it). It didn't work then. It won't work now.

For those TSOs who were in the US Armed Forces prior to the TSA, your military code of conduct says that you should refuse to follow what you believe to not be a lawful or moral order. So, don't try to pull my heartstrings about having served in the military prior to being a TSO. Your military training makes it so you should know better.

For those TSOs of Jewish decent who take offense at the comparison? I've little pity for you, either. As Jews, you should be acutely aware of the history of how distasteful the "just following orders" defense is.

And, to the writer of that blog entry? I don't care whether you feel like you're being a mouthpiece or not. I don't care about the rest of the contents of your site. When you posted your link on Twitter, it was for a specific page on your site. There are billions of pages up on the internet. Only a few of those pages are of sufficient interest to make a reader want to read more by a given author. So, when you use Twitter, StumbleUpon, Digg, etc. to drive traffic to your site, know that 99.999% of the readers who get to your site through those means will only know you through what they see you write on that one page. So, when you add commentary to your article that seems apologistic or you quote links used by the same people that are the source of irritation, you will be seen in the light of those comments. Deal with it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Do Poll-Quoters Even Understand the Polls They Quote?

Ok, so, I've now seen references to two different polls that claim to support the TSA's enhanced pat-downs. One is the one that the TSA cites in their blog and one was one cited in the LA Time's news blog. In both cases, the people claiming the polls support their view didn't seem to actually read how the polls were structured.

The poll cited by the TSA in their blogs was what statisticians would refer to as a "non-representative sample". The poll was a random sampling of the population-at-large. It was not a sampling of the traveling-population. In other words, the sample population could be be heavily skewed towards respondents not directly effected by the new policies. If the TSA wanted to be more convincing, they'd have polled actual travelers - particularly frequent-travelers. Then there might be something resembling validity in the results.

The poll cited in the LA Time's news blog uses the misleading claim of "travel professionals". It's used in a way to make the un-careful reader think they're referring to people that fly, on a frequent basis, as part of their job. However, if one bothers to read rather than just skimming (or even just taking a headline at face value), one discovers that the "travel professionals" polled were the people making travel arrangements. It wasn't a poll of people that use those travel arrangements. Much like the poll cited by the TSA, it's not a poll of those directly impacted by the TSA policies.

Unfortunately, there's far too many people out there who take things at face value. There's far too many skimmers. There's far too many "headlines-only" readers. Simply put, there's too many people that are simply lazy in how they choose to inform themselves. News organizations, corporations and anyone in the spin business knows this and take advantage of it.

You Call That "Security"?

Ok, so my "security-minded" bank requires you to change your web portal password at 45-day intervals. Further, they require a minimum password length and you can't re-use a password within ten change. Oh... and these rules are in place for a service that gets used once every 30 days (so, it's not like you get a chance to memorize your password by frequent use).

Even more fun is that: A) they don't have an online password reset tool once you get locked out; and, B) they only have CSRs available M-F during business hours.

Toss in the fact that passwords may not contain the types of characters I use to make my passwords "suitably complex":



...and this bank's authentication system is kind of a joke.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Where Was My Mind

I have my occasional "absent-minded" moment. Some days, I have more moments than others. Today, I ad a real winner of a moment...

I just went into the kitchen and found the bottle of milk on top of the refrigerator and my pill-box sitting in the fridge on the milk-shelf. I may have been a touch "distracted" when I took my evening pills, earlier, tonight.

Oops.

Fortunately, the two items had only been transposed for less than 15 minutes. So, I don't have to immediately kill a luke-warm, half-gallon bottle of milk to keep from wasting $4 worth of milk.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Probably Never Happen

Many (most?) police departments have taken to recording interactions with the public. It helps provide proof that the law enforcement officer (LEO) was acting professionally when there's questions about inappropriate conduct or police brutality. In theory, it's a great idea. In practice, it still has its flaws (e.g., when there's accusations of wrongdoing and videos go "missing", are "damaged" or there were recording equipment "malfunctions"), but it's a start down the right path.

Right now, the TSA's in the middle of a growing backlash over their increasingly invasive "security" measures. These days, the TSA wants you to be irradiated while holding a "I'm being mugged" pose so that some government drone can look at, essentially, naked pictures of you. As an "alternative", they have been offering people the option of being given a pat-down.

When this started, the pat-down was fairly innocuous. However, too many people were choosing the option, thus defeating the point of billions of dollars in purchases of expensive, "sexy" machines. The TSA wasn't too fond of people opting out of their security theatre, so they decided to make the pat-down an option too unpleasant to consider. They directed their glorified Barney Fifes to conduct pat-downs that, outside of a government-sanctioned context, would be considered sexual assault.

Now, it seems to me that, given what they've put in place, they really should consider the LEO-esque video-taping of such interactions. That way, if a case ever went to criminal or civil proceedings, the TSA agents would be able to provide proof of no wrong-doing in the form of video tapes. I'm guessing, however, that this will never happen. The TSA knows, all too well, that if a case ever went to court, such video tapes would be damning rather than vindicating.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Dinners

Often times, Sundays are the days that Donna chooses to go all-out when making dinner. Tonight was one of those nights. She put together a nice osso bucco served with chanterelle risotto and a brussel sprout and allium hash. Served it with a nice, bright red wine.
Sunday Dinner
She'll probably write up what she did on her blog.

Avery's a Bum

I'd not shed a single tear were I to open the sports page and be greeted with news of Sean Avery's horrifying, agony-filled death. He's a piece of gutter-trash that the world would be a better place without. I mean, he makes Tie Domi seem like a class act.