The fish that made it to Pittsburgh


I plan for this to be mostly an essay blog rather than a link blog, but I could not resist this story of yet another nightmare at airport security, as a student is ordered to "dispose" of her pet fish while trying to take it home with her on the plane.

So now the essay. Like many of you, I have read tons of these crazy security stories. Stories of cruelty, stories of pointless security that simply gives the appearance of security without making things safer. Innocent people harassed. Pilots arrested over nailclippers. People groped. People kept off planes for reading the wrong book.

Now, you might be firmly of the mind that we must increase security and make some sacrifices. But if that's the case, there need to be checks and balances on the security decisions.

Right now, when people go overboard on security, there is no negative consequence for them when they get it wrong. They have no reason not to go overboard. We're too afraid that if we discipline them at all, they might let something slide and let Al Qaida on the plane.

But it can't work that way. There needs to be a consequence for going over the top. People should be able to lose jobs, get fined or disciplined. Security workers need to think twice about whether they should do something.

This should particularly be true if it's obvious that what they are doing gives only the appearance of security rather than real security, unless we decide it is our policy that the appearance of security is more important.

(And while I see the argument some might make for that -- that the public has to feel confident that they are safe in transit or they won't travel -- I don't buy it long term at all.)

The men who made the fish policy, or the men who enforced it, should be called to account. If they have a reason for it, they should have it ready for the passenger. If they don't, somebody should be disciplined.

No, I'm not saying don't give them any discretion or let them make any mistakes. But the mistakes should be noted, explained, and if repeated, punished.


Dear Brad,
I have been reading your postitngs on copyright laws, although there are still a couple things that are unclear to me. I understand the basics, but I have a question and if you have the time I would appreciate a response. I'm sure you have heard of, it's a sort of hang out for scenster kids who post photos of themselves and their interests. If they are snapshots taken with their digital cameras and posted on makeout, the only intent being for other people to see them, can I use those pictures in my artwork? I do sell some of it, so I suppose my intent is for profit. Are these fair game?
Thank you,
Natalia G.

Security is a fantastic thing! The more secure you feel, the less secure you probably are. ie. 10th of september 2001 in the United States of America must have been a great day - Enron cases going to trial, new president promising to get tough on corporate crooks, et al - A sign that all is well with the system. NOT ON THE 11th!!
Security is as a metaphysical thing closely related to comfort, the more comfortable you feel the less likely you will feel that something is going to go wrong ie. your secure.
Funny thing is being harrased as you leave an airplane is uncomfortable, probably makes you more
secure - secure in the knowledge that you will likely be harrased next time as well. But given that the goal to make you secure from terrorism, the above strategies only work if you are making the terrorist uncomfortable. BUT they are secure in the knowledge that Allah will save them, and thus quite comfortable with thier actions...

I would rather live in a slightly dangerous society of great freedom rather than a very secure, manicured police state. I think that is the question we are faced with here in the United States.

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