Ramblings & ephemera

The psychology of waiting for your luggage at the airport

From Dan Ariely’s “Flying Frustrations” (21 November 2011): Think about these two ways to get your luggage: With the original airport design, you walk ten minutes, but when you finally get to the carousel, your baggage gets there a minute after you (taking 11 minutes). In the other, you walk three minutes, but when you […]

CCTV in your plane’s cabin?

From Michael Reilly’s “In-flight surveillance could foil terrorists in the sky” (New Scientist: 29 May 2008): CCTV cameras are bringing more and more public places under surveillance – and passenger aircraft could be next. A prototype European system uses multiple cameras and “Big Brother” software to try and automatically detect terrorists or other dangers caused […]

Give CLEAR your info, watch CLEAR lose your info

From “Missing SFO Laptop With Sensitive Data Found” (CBS5: 5 August 2008): The company that runs a fast-pass security prescreening program at San Francisco International Airport said Tuesday that it found a laptop containing the personal information of 33,000 people more than a week after it apparently went missing. The Transportation Security Administration announced late […]

A one-way ticket to crazyville

Image by rsgranne via Flickr Image by rsgranne via Flickr Image by rsgranne via Flickr From Dave Alan’s “Interview with Alex Christopher” (Leading Edge Research Group: 1 June 1996): Legend: DA [Dave Alan, Host] AC: [Alex Christopher] C: [Caller] … (Note: according to former British Intelligence agent Dr. John Coleman, the London-based Wicca Mason lodges […]

Problems with airport security

From Jeffrey Goldberg’s “The Things He Carried” (The Atlantic: November 2008): Because the TSA’s security regimen seems to be mainly thing-based—most of its 44,500 airport officers are assigned to truffle through carry-on bags for things like guns, bombs, three-ounce tubes of anthrax, Crest toothpaste, nail clippers, Snapple, and so on—I focused my efforts on bringing […]

Denver International Airport, home to alien reptilians enslaving children in deep dungeons

From Jared Jacang Maher’s “DIA Conspiracies Take Off” (Denver Westword News: 30 August 2007): Chris from Indianapolis has heard that the tunnels below DIA [Denver International Airport] were constructed as a kind of Noah’s Ark so that five million people could escape the coming earth change; shaken and earnest, he asks how someone might go […]

Imagining a future of warring balloons

From Tom Reiss’s “Imagining the Worst: How a literary genre anticipated the modern world” (The New Yorker [28 November 2005]: 108): … the first mini-boom in invasion fiction began in the seventeen-eighties, when the French developed the hot-air balloon. Soon, French poems and plays were depicting hot-air-propelled flying armies destined for England, and an American […]

The airplane graveyard

From Patrick Smith’s “Ask the pilot” (Salon: 4 August 2006): The wing is shorn off. It lies upside down in the dirt amid a cluster of desert bushes. The flaps and slats are ripped away, and a nest of pipes sprouts from the engine attachment pylon like the flailing innards of some immense dead beast. […]

Why airport security fails constantly

From Bruce Schneier’s “Airport Passenger Screening” (Crypto-Gram Newsletter: 15 April 2006): It seems like every time someone tests airport security, airport security fails. In tests between November 2001 and February 2002, screeners missed 70 percent of knives, 30 percent of guns, and 60 percent of (fake) bombs. And recently, testers were able to smuggle bomb-making […]

L.A. police using drones to spy on citizens

From Zachary Slobig’s “Police launch eye-in-the-sky technology above Los Angeles” (AFP: 17 June 2006): Police launched the future of law enforcement into the smoggy Los Angeles sky in the form of a drone aircraft, bringing technology most commonly associated with combat zones to urban policing. The unmanned aerial vehicle, which looks like a child’s remote […]

How to travel to the most isolated human settlement on earth

From Adam Goodheart’s “The Last Island of the Savages” (The American Scholar, Autumn 2000, 69(4):13-44): This is how you get to the most isolated human settlement on earth [North Sentinel Island, in the Andaman Islands]: You board an evening flight at JFK for Heathrow, Air India 112, a plane full of elegant sari-clad women, London-bound […]

How patents ruined the Wright brothers

From Robert X. Cringely’s “Patently Absurd: Why Simply Making Spam Illegal Won’t Work“: Nobody can deny that the Wright brothers were pioneers. Their use of a wind tunnel helped define the science of aerodynamics and had influence far beyond their time. But their secrecy and litigious nature held back the progress of flying, and eventually […]

Why we don’t have rights from the ground to the sky

From Salon’s “Throwing Google at the book“: Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford law professor and copyright scholar, likes to tell the story of Thomas Lee and Tinie Causby, two North Carolina farmers, who in 1945 cast themselves at the center of a case that would redefine how society thought of physical property rights. The immediate cause […]

Don’t fly where we won’t tell you not to fly

From Bruce Schneier’s “The Silliness of Secrecy“, quoting The Wall Street Journal: Ever since Sept. 11, 2001, the federal government has advised airplane pilots against flying near 100 nuclear power plants around the country or they will be forced down by fighter jets. But pilots say there’s a hitch in the instructions: aviation security officials […]

1,000,000 miles in 30 days

From MSNBC’s “Very, very frequent flyer hits 1 million goal“: On his blog “The Great Canadian Mileage Run 2005,” [Marc] Tacchi reported on Wednesday that he had racked up 1,003,625 mileage points and spent 56 of the last 61 days in an airplane. … The 30-year-old embarked on his venture using Air Canada’s North America […]