SeaViews: Insights from the Gray
(formerly the _Rochester Rag_, formerly the _News
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
-- C.A. Beard
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On last month's Fix;
the revised Fix from last month asked you to comment on
"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
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
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
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
November 24, 2001
Hello Muddah, hello Faddah
As I was skulking around on Lucianne.com, foraging for
column fodder, I came across a bizarre article in a
The article "Deception Fuels Domestic Bliss" appears in
"Nature Science Update," a self-described "authoritative
accessible online round-up of what's new in science
If that description is true, perhaps we should be
concerned about the state of modern science. See for
a sampling of some other articles on the site's homepage.
"Friends Are Stranger Than Strangers ñ If your
normal people, they would not know you." "Bugs Enjoy Hamster
Sex ñ Bacteria caught mating with mammalian
"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
Bressan, "Why Babies Look Like Their Daddies: Paternity
uncertainty and the evolution of self-deception in
family resemblance." Don't be intimidated ñ you'll
better understand the title after I translate the
The article (and the report) warns us not to be fooled by
common scenes of family bliss. Mother, father and child
look like a happy trio, but evolutionary biologists reject
that idea. To them, each of the three is pursuing his or
"own, often competing interests."
Bressan appears to be arguing that, contrary to popular
belief, parents and their children have an interest in
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
raising some other man's child. But ñ and get this,
you philanderers ñ they will not be able to sneak any
other families, which is even more important. On balance,
then, fathers have an interest in the baby being
What about the baby? "The wild card is adultery," says
the article. "The baby comes into the world unsure of
the male providing for it is its biological father." Not
being related to the father could result in neglect, or
infanticide. The article concludes, "It's easy to see how,
in an evolutionary sense, babies might not want to
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
fundamental, evolutionary level. "It will be adaptive on the
part of infants to conceal their father's identity." When
think about it, that's scarier yet. It's almost ascribing a
deliberative intelligence to evolution itself, kind of a
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
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
were their offspring, they would be less likely to support
them. Not to worry. There's a simple solution, which the
of evolution will be sure to effectuate.
Once babies consummate their conspiracy to achieve
biological anonymity, mothers will inevitably develop a
(presumably also through the design forces of evolution) to
decrease the father's uncertainty about his paternity. I'm
kidding you. Mothers will appeal to the evil male ego with
"unsolicited comments on the babies' resemblance to
Bressan's "mathematical models" show that putative
fathers can be willingly duped into believing the children
"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
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" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: 'LANGER STEVEN C' <sglanger@Oakland.edu>
Subject: RE: lastcall
>> "Federal control of airport security will
do for airline safety
>> what federal control of mail has done for the
>> mail bombs"
The situation is so obvious, that it
hardly deserves comment.
Federalization of airport security makes about as much
privatization of the military. By making airport security
part of the
government law enforcement issues with the 4th amendment are
didn't exist before.
The post (private or Federal) has enabled mailbomber to
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
guns, knives, knitting needles, and Air Marshals onto
2. Doug WIlken writes;
Date: Sat, 24 Nov 2001 12:19:45 -0800
From: Douglas E. Wilken <email@example.com>
To: LANGER STEVEN C <sglanger@Oakland.edu>
Subject: Re: lastcall
Probably. I never fail to be baffled by those
individuals who assume that
if we give control of something to a government it will
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:
2. Stable Currency
3. Judicial system to resolve disputes
Airports are public domain. The airplane is private
security can be listed under
category 5) and possibly 1). I do not believe that it
ultimately matters if
is under private or public control, so long as the resultant
well and efficiently.
And I am sure there are many ways of making things function
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
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
Or screen all baggage and cargo loaded onto the
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
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,
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
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
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."
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
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
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
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.
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
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.