Security brains think about jacking stuff. All the time.

494024911 8688507849 450x299 Security brains think about jacking stuff. All the time.

Nobody better steal these bricks. (img by bibi-pov)

I worked at a fulfillment center for a while. It had what you would expect for a place with valuable stuff: alarms, vaults, man trap entry and exits, cameras all over the damned place, bag checks, etc. I spent about every spare moment I had in the place thinking about ways to defeat the security systems. Not because I was planning a heist, but because it was interesting.

I learned some weird things, e.g. most of the security measures in place were there for insurance purposes, not theft protection. Metal detector scans, for example… the most valuable items in the place were non-metallic. But random scans with a metal detector meant an x% insurance break, so they were part of the security system. And that the real key to good security is having several interlocking systems relying on lots of mostly-honest people.

Here are the things I thought about while counting high-end merchandise small enough to easily pocket or palm: (more…)

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Senators back increasing air travel fees to close TSA funding shortfall

photo414 450x465 Senators back increasing air travel fees to close TSA funding shortfall

Pat McKrotch (img by Reporter Gary)

@the Hill:

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday moved forward with legislation to increase airline passenger security fees, beating back a GOP attempt to keep them at current levels.

The 2013 Homeland Security appropriations bill would increase one-way fees for passengers from $2.50 to $5 in order to close a budget shortfall at the Transportation Security Administration.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said the $315 million in funding would otherwise come from taxpayers and argued it is better to stick passengers who rely on TSA with the bill. (more…)

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Reason is a press secretary, not a judge

1797779207 66b4a15786 450x337 Reason is a press secretary, not a judge

Is it wrong to take a dump in these? (img by Chris Applegate)

You probably believe that you’re a primarily rational being, i.e. you weigh new ideas and impressions and respond to them based on logic and reasoned thought. But that’s probably not true, and there are a bunch of studies that show that the opposite is true: you use your rational faculties to justify or prove your gut reactions and emotional responses to new input.

Right now you’re dismissing that last statement because you’re perfectly rational and why should you give a fuck what some guy on a blog with a gasmask logo says. And you’d be right. And so would I.

I still think you should read Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. But don’t read it because I said so. Read it because you’re fascinated by this summary over at NYT, which includes gems like this:

We were never designed to listen to reason. When you ask people moral questions, time their responses and scan their brains, their answers and brain activation patterns indicate that they reach conclusions quickly and produce reasons later only to justify what they’ve decided. The funniest and most painful illustrations are Haidt’s transcripts of interviews about bizarre scenarios. Is it wrong to have sex with a dead chicken? How about with your sister? Is it O.K. to defecate in a urinal? If your dog dies, why not eat it? Under interrogation, most subjects in psychology experiments agree these things are wrong. But none can explain why.

The problem isn’t that people don’t reason. They do reason. But their arguments aim to support their conclusions, not yours. Reason doesn’t work like a judge or teacher, impartially weighing evidence or guiding us to wisdom. It works more like a lawyer or press secretary, justifying our acts and judgments to others.

Even if you don’t read the book, keep an eyeball on how you react to stuff, especially now that we’re sprinting headlong into election season in the US. Remember that people who disagree with you aren’t always brain-damaged dupes (sometimes they are, just not always), and they may disagree with you because they value different things (equality over liberty, etc.). By all means continue to disagree. But know why you’re disagreeing and know that you’re just as prone to snap judgments as they are. You may end up respecting the people around you a little more, and I think that’s always a win.

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Intel, not scanners, stops second underwear bomber

Intel Happens1 450x299 Intel, not scanners, stops second underwear bomber

You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you black and white. (img by Gizmodo)

The CIA thwarted an ambitious plot by al-Qaida’s affiliate in Yemen to destroy a U.S.-bound airliner using a bomb with a sophisticated new design around the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, The Associated Press has learned.

The plot involved an upgrade of the underwear bomb that failed to detonate aboard a jetliner over Detroit on Christmas 2009. This new bomb was also designed to be used in a passenger’s underwear, but this time al-Qaida developed a more refined detonation system, U.S. officials said.

The FBI is examining the latest bomb to see whether it could have passed through airport security and brought down an airplane, officials said. They said the device did not contain metal, meaning it probably could have passed through an airport metal detector. But it was not clear whether new body scanners used in many airports would have detected it.

Really, all you have to do is ask Bruce:

Here are my predictions:

  1. There’s a lot more hyperbole to this story than reality.
  2. The explosive would have either 1) been caught by pre-9/11 security, or 2) not been caught by post-9/11 security.
  3. Nonetheless, it will be used to justify more invasive airport security.
Which would have probably been true if not for one thing.  Dude was a plant.

Yep, a double agent. (more…)

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More firings expected in Secret Service scandal

Prostitution Scandal More firings expected in Secret Service scandal

The prostitute involved n the Secret Service sex scandal has panicked and gone into hiding. (img by Commons Wikimedia)


The chairman of a House committee investigating an alleged Secret Service prostitution scandal predicted more firings as key lawmakers and a top adviser to President Barack Obama expressed confidence Sunday that the agency will effectively deal with the incident.

“Every possible lead is being examined,” said Rep. Peter King, who heads the House Homeland Security Committee. King, R-N.Y., said he expected that in the “near future, several other” members of the Secret Service will leave.

“What they were thinking is beyond me,” King told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” (more…)

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Australian ‘No Fly List’ mystery after Assange Lawyer Apprehended

australian no fly list mystery after assange lawyer apprehended 450x299 Australian No Fly List mystery after Assange Lawyer Apprehended

Human Rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson, legal representative for Julian Assange and Wikleaks, who was refused permission to fly to Australia from Heathrow, chats to protesters at the Commonwealth Law Conference in Sydney. (img by Demotix)


Picketers from numerous organisations supporting Wikileaks and Julian Assange sought to challenge Australian Attorney General Nicola Roxon on her arrival at the Commonwealth Lawyers’ Association’s Regional Law Conference (CLARLC) in Sydney, Australia on Friday 20 April 2012.

Ms Roxon addressed the Conference on “The Rule of Law and the Commonwealth Principles – Terrorism, Emergency Laws and Human Rights.”

But most attendees and the Australian media and public public had signalled that they were more interested to hear her explain why London-based, Australian human rights lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, was apprehended at Heathrow Airport and initially prevented from boarding her flight to address the same conference. And why Ms Robinson has been placed on a restricted travel list. And by whom. (more…)

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