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SeaViews: Insights from the Gray Havens 
November 2001

(formerly the _Rochester Rag_, formerly the _News from Detroit_)

Motto: The surest way to get a reputation for being a trouble maker these days is to go about repeating the very phrases that the Founders used in the struggle for independence.

-- C.A. Beard


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On last month's Fix;

the revised Fix from last month asked you to comment on the following,
"The federalization of airport security workers will do for airline safety what federal mail workers have done for stopping mail bombs and anthrax letters."

On September 11'th, 2001 the people responsible for the hijackings were carrying short blades and box cutter knives. They went through security anyway. Why? Becuase at that date, folding knives with blades under 4 inches were still permitted by FAA rules as carry on luggage. So, the security forces then in charge were enforcing the then stated Federal requirements. They didn't help.

Since then, each side on capital hill has been trying to make political hay by "making it safe for Americans to fly again." Senate Liberals, as usual, look to the Fed for the source of all sustenance and safety and as such blame the "low paid, undertrained, private security forces" for Sept. 11. As such their bill was set to federalize airport security. Never mind that the FAA rules then in place permitted exactly the weapons that were used.

 Free market conservatives in the House tendered a private sector alternative operated under Federal rules and management, which is what we currently have. But the bill would have manded the FAA to tighten the rules.

The compromise bill that was signed by Bush yesterday (Nov.  20) will result in federalizing 28000 security workers among the nation's largest airports and will take over one year to implement. It will take 8 weeks for the first ones to be hired. Five airports will be allowed to opt out the first  year if they can show they are secure. After three years, all airports will be allowed to petition to hire private security firms again. Senate Dem Leader Tom Daschle declared victory and says it's now safe for he and his pals to fly home for the Thanksgiving recess.

I write this sitting in SeaTac airport, the day before Thanksgiving, one of the busiest flight days in the US year. The federales have not been hired yet, but young national guard troops barely old enough to shave are sporting M16s at the checkpoints. Still, on average, only one checked bag in 4 are examined, and on my drive in I noticed a large section of fence around the airport was down while construction crews work on a new runway.  It would not be very hard for someone to pull off 99, walk over a little grass, and be on the tarmac.

Yesterday a 94 year old women contracted inhalation anthrax in CT. Today (Nov 21) she died.


The Post Office is a federal institution, run by well paid Federal employees, and they can no longer use the excuse that they were caught by surprise by letter born anthrax - they've had over a month's alert. There are only 13 major postal hubs in the continental US. Surely, in a month's time the all powerful Feds could have installed gamma irradiators to eliminate the threat of germ waepons. And for that matter, the Uni Bomber was in business for what - 8 or ten years? Why aren't parcels scanned for explosive signatures?

And hey, aren't the INS employees federal? So how come four of the Sept 11 terrorists were in this country on expired student visas?

Oh and how about that ongoing cocaine problem? Since border guards and Customs are Fed employees, I'm left to conclude that all cocaine used in this country must be domestically produced - can't possibly be getting past the omnipotent perfection of Federal security.

Clearly, there is a problem with relying on the Feds to make us safe. I know, its becuase there are still not enough of them, they are not paid enough, and our taxes are too low.

What a crock - if any of you believe that surrendering your freedoms or property to the state will make you one iota safer - I have some water front property on Mercury I'd like to sell you.

El Al, the Israeli airline, has not had a highjacking since the seventies. Nor is Israel a country afraid to crack the Federal whip when they think it required. But, their security is contracted out for bid on 3 year contracts. Part of the bid process is that the competitors try to infiltrate each other's security systems.  The bid winner is not necessarily the cheapest, but the cheapest who is also secure.  What a novel idea - competition in a free market.

Wonder where El Al got the concept?

What competition will the Fed airline security  face? Oh yeah, whatever competition is permitted.

Question: While the screeners look for knives, nail files, nail clippers and other horrific weapons, what are they doing to protect us from a "suicide bomber" who walks on the plane while in the incubative phase of carrying a terminal, communicable disease or a spray can of anthrax/serin/smallpox?

Guest Editorial:

David Limbaugh
November 24, 2001

Hello Muddah, hello Faddah

As I was skulking around on, foraging for column fodder, I came across a bizarre article in a bizarre

The article "Deception Fuels Domestic Bliss" appears in "Nature Science Update," a self-described "authoritative and
accessible online round-up of what's new in science research."

If that description is true, perhaps we should be concerned about the state of modern science. See for yourself. Here's
a sampling of some other articles on the site's homepage. "Friends Are Stranger Than Strangers ñ If your friends were
normal people, they would not know you." "Bugs Enjoy Hamster Sex ñ Bacteria caught mating with mammalian cells."
"Warm Balls Wrap She-Males ñ Transvestism takes the chill off snakes."

OK, enough about the site, now onto the article.

In "Deception Fuels Domestic Bliss," John Whitfield summarizes the "scientific findings" contained in a report by Paola
Bressan, "Why Babies Look Like Their Daddies: Paternity uncertainty and the evolution of self-deception in evaluating
family resemblance." Don't be intimidated ñ you'll better understand the title after I translate the psychobabble.

The article (and the report) warns us not to be fooled by common scenes of family bliss. Mother, father and child might
look like a happy trio, but evolutionary biologists reject that idea. To them, each of the three is pursuing his or her
"own, often competing interests."

Bressan appears to be arguing that, contrary to popular belief, parents and their children have an interest in not
knowing whether the father and baby are biologically related. Please follow this.

First, let's look at fathers. If they pass on a "genetic badge" making their children identifiable as theirs, they can avoid
raising some other man's child. But ñ and get this, you philanderers ñ they will not be able to sneak any offspring into
other families, which is even more important. On balance, then, fathers have an interest in the baby being "anonymous."

What about the baby? "The wild card is adultery," says the article. "The baby comes into the world unsure of whether
the male providing for it is its biological father." Not being related to the father could result in neglect, or even
infanticide. The article concludes, "It's easy to see how, in an evolutionary sense, babies might not want to resemble
anyone in particular." Can't you just see a baby, or even a toddler, cogitating over these weighty matters and
concluding, after much deliberation, that it's better off not looking like either of its parents?

In fairness, Bressan may be suggesting that the baby is not consciously calculating these things, but acting at a more
fundamental, evolutionary level. "It will be adaptive on the part of infants to conceal their father's identity." When you
think about it, that's scarier yet. It's almost ascribing a deliberative intelligence to evolution itself, kind of a non-design
design. But I suppose nothing's new about that ñ evolution, for some, is the secular god.

Are you getting the picture? While we tend to think that all family members have an interest in knowing that both
parents and their children are biologically related, the opposite is true, so babies may tend to evolve in such a way as
not to resemble their parents.

Ah, but there's a catch. As you might suspect, evil males are the culprits. If fathers were unsure whether the children
were their offspring, they would be less likely to support them. Not to worry. There's a simple solution, which the god
of evolution will be sure to effectuate.

Once babies consummate their conspiracy to achieve biological anonymity, mothers will inevitably develop a strategy
(presumably also through the design forces of evolution) to decrease the father's uncertainty about his paternity. I'm not
kidding you. Mothers will appeal to the evil male ego with "unsolicited comments on the babies' resemblance to their
putative fathers."

Bressan's "mathematical models" show that putative fathers can be willingly duped into believing the children are theirs,
"as long as the chance that they are being deceived is slim enough" ñ whatever that means.

Permit me to summarize: Modern science teaches us that fathers, mothers and children have an interest in being
ignorant of the fathers' and children's biological relationship, and evolution will facilitate that result. But evil fathers won't
be happy anyway and will start neglecting, abusing or killing their children. Mothers will then begin lying to them, and
they'll all live happily ever after.

So when your family gets together for Thanksgiving, remember to tell dad how much his babies look like him,
understanding that you'll fool him, but not the babies.


1. Dave Gay pens.

Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2001 13:04:41 -0600
From: "Gay, David" <>
Subject: RE: lastcall

>>  "Federal control of airport security will do for airline safety
>> what federal control of mail has done for the elimination of
>> mail bombs"

The situation is so obvious, that it
hardly deserves comment.

Federalization of airport security makes about as much sense as
privatization of the military. By making airport security part of the
government law enforcement issues with the 4th amendment are created that
didn't exist before.

The post (private or Federal) has enabled mailbomber to deliver their
bombs. The airport security doesn't fly planes or provide the anything that
allows hijackers to do what they do, they just check luggage. It does not
matter if they are paid by "Joe's Cheap Airport Security Service" or the
Federal Government, they will still occasionally allow box-cutters,

guns, knives, knitting needles, and Air Marshals onto planes.


2. Doug WIlken writes;
Date: Sat, 24 Nov 2001 12:19:45 -0800
From: Douglas E. Wilken <>
Subject: Re: lastcall

Hi Steve,

Probably.  I never fail to be baffled by those individuals who assume that
if we give control of something to a government it will automatically work
better. Bad planning and implementation  is not the exclusive property of either the
public or private sectors.

Now if I recall Adam Smith correctly, humans form governments to provide
five (5) key functions:

1.  Defense
2.  Stable Currency
3.  Judicial system to resolve disputes
4.  Education
5.  Infrastructure

Airports are public domain.  The airplane is private property.  Airport
security can be listed under
category 5) and possibly 1).  I do not believe that it ultimately matters if
airport security
is under private or public control, so long as the resultant product works
well and efficiently.
And I am sure there are many ways of making things function better via
either private, public
or combinations of both.

There must be *NO* public bailouts of airlines.  That was a bad move.
When we bail them out, with no strings attached, there is no incentive to
fix any problems. A simple possibility is to send in teams and individuals to test security
arrangements and then publish results.  Message to airline:  Fix security problems or go

Or perhaps another simple idea:  Train and then arm airline personnel.

Or screen all baggage and cargo loaded onto the aircraft.

Blah, blah, blah.

Nothing is original here.  Note that politics as usual is occuring in
Washington D.C. and I
include both major parties in that assessment.

Enough blathering on this end.  Have a great thanksgiving.

Doug Wilken

Quote(s) of the month:

     "Donít fire unless fired upon. But if they want a war let it begin here"

--Parker, Captain John commander of the militiamen at Lexington, Massachusetts, on siting
     British Troops. 19 April, 1775

Fix of the month:



1. SeaTac, 5 November: Atlanta has nothing on Seattle when it comes to overreacting on the airline security issue. A female food service worker passed through a metal detector and set it off. She continued to get on the subway to the South Concourse while security people called after her to stop. There is a Big Red Button that security can press to cause the subway to backup and return to the checkpoint, but noone recalled to use it.

So the women was free for about 10-15 minutes in the South Concourse to do whatever. Security swung into action and cleared not only the Sounth Concourse, not only the North and Central Concourses, but also any planes that were still attached to the jetways.

Over 5000 people went back through security, cause a grounding of flights for over 5 hours. The rationale for searching everyone is that the women could have passed "something" on to someone else. But, it does not make sense that the other concourses were also cleared, since they know the women was in the train to the South Concourse. Also, explosive sniffing dogs were not used to clear the South Concourse itself - so if say - the women hid weapons or bombs in the restroom trash cans, there were still there.


Springfield, 11 Nov: Police arrested a 26 year old man after finding A 2 foot alligator in his bathtub, a methamphetamine lab in his house, and a burning car in his driveway.

David Wenetta was charged with arson, possession of a destructive device, and manufacture of a controlled substance.  He was booked in Lane County jail. The car belonged to the suspect's 34 year old girl friend. Police believe that he set it afire after an argument with her.

The alligator (the destructive device) was considered a watch dog for the met lab.


1. 1 November, Fort Lauderdale: Judge Sheldon Shapiro, accused of belittling people in his courtroom, sometimes using a prop that sounds like a Flushing toilet, was indicted on ethics violations.  In one case, the prosecutor told the judge the mother of a murdered gunshot victim wanted to speak with him. According to the commission staff, the judge's reaction was: "what do I need to hear from the mother of the kid for?  All she will tell me is to keep the guy in jail and never let him out."

West Virginia;

1. Wheeling, 15 November: A 6 person jury, five of them ex- smokers, rejected a lawsuit that would have forced four tobacco companies to pay for the annual medical exams for two hundred fifty thousand healthy West Virginia smokers.  The lawsuit, a class-action product liability case, proposed using medical monitoring as the proposed remedy for wronged tobacco consumers.  However, the jury said that while smokers have increased risk of disease, they don't need continuous monitoring. R. J. Reynolds pointed out that the plaintiffs  wanted to have the right to continue smoking, but have the tobacco companies pay for their medical testing and any subsequent treatments.


1.  Irwin, 15  November: the parents of an eight year old girl were arrested for involuntary manslaughter. The two had left the girl alone to go shopping.  When they returned they found the familie's 10 ft. Burmese Python wrapped around the girl's cold, dead neck.


1. San Joaquin Valley: A Taiwaneess immigrant farmer was arrested under Federal felony charges and had his tractor impounded for the unpardonable sin of plowing his property. Apparently, the hoodlum was unaware that his land was marked as Kangaroo Rat habitat, and since this rodent is protected, the omnipotent Fish and Wildlife Service charged the miscreant under the Protected Species Act.

At his hearing, the farmer defended himself on the grounds that he assumed that in the land of the free, one could farm one's own land - particulary in a farming valley.

Thank God,  Fish and Wildlife was standing watch to correct his ill-advised belief in fairy tales.


1. Atlanta, 15 Nov: A male passenger, late for his plane, caused the entire airport to shut down when he ran through the checkpoint metal detector, setting it off and darted for his gate. Security forces evacuated all gate areas, and unbeliavably even turned around planes that were on the taxi ways, to bring all passengers back for a re-screen. The resulting backup to the nation's air traffic is belived to ahve cost over $100 million.

Washington D.C.

1. 15 November: The Red Cross finds itself at the end of several unflattering press stories lately.  First, they announced that they planned to reserve $200 million of the $543 million amassed for the special Sept. 11 fund. Second, they continued to encourage people to donate blood even though they knew that  all their coolers were filled and the blood could not be used fast enough to avoid having to dump over thirty percent of the donations.  Several congressional members joined in expressing outrage - triggering an apology and change a policy by the chair David McLaughlin. McLaughlin also indicated that the Red Cross would stop setting aside special funds for the Sept. 11 fund, and would announce in January plans for disbursing current funds.

2. 21 Nov: Investigators have learned that 15 of the 19 actors in the September 11th attacks were in this country on Saudi Arabian visas. "It is common knowledge that it is easier for a Saudi Arabian to get into the United States then from any other country in the East," says CIA director for counter terrorism Larry Johnson.

Historically, Saudis have not attracted INS attention because they were mostly wealthy visitors who paid full price for medical care, graduate school and tourist travel.  Immigration and police assume that you have money if you come from Saudi.  The INS continued this practice despite a 1996 warning from the CIA.

3. 30 Oct: Two DC restaurants, the Pizza Paradizo and Restuarante Nora, are saving their wine bottle corks - 150,000 of them. Why? Ex CLinton speech writer John Pollack and his pals are building  a raft - held together with 15,000 rubber bands - out of the corks. Pollack says it's his version of Thor Hyerdal's Kon Tiki - and he intends to sail it down the Chesapeake. "In the wake of the 9/11 tragedy, we need this diversion to get out of our depression," says the builder.