Schneier on Security
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May 15, 2007
Hinky at the Casino: JDLR
It's called "Just Doesn't Look Right":
In the casino business, or any other, we tend to become complacent, and we stop paying attention to the little things. But a really sharp observer will still be shocked awake at some little unexplained thing: the five o'clock shadow on the woman sitting opposite the big-money player, or too many people watching that game, or the fellow who keeps looking directly at the cameras. The guy who looks as though he slept under an overpass carrying a new shopping bag from Nieman-Marcus, the two players on a table game whose arms were held against their chests, the bulge under that character's jacket and the man wearing an overcoat on an August day in Las Vegas.
Posted on May 15, 2007 at 11:05 AM
• 13 Comments
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I'm trying to decide if the jumbled acronym in the title is intentional (as it just doesn't look right), or not. ;-)
My first job as a teen was at a local butcher shop. One day in July, four guys wearing black overcoats and sunglasses walked into the place. Everyone behind the meat counter froze as the four took up strategic places around the store. But then they all just walked out. We speculated either they were practicing for a future hit, or they got freaked out by all the people standing and staring at them. Overcoats in July aren't "little things."
This article reminded me of a great story in Stephen Ambrose's nonfiction book "Band of Brothers" about the 101st Airborne in WW2.
A guy on outpost reports to his sergeant, "There's a tree up there towards Noville that wasn't there yesterday." Turns out it was camouflage for a newly installed antiaircraft battery, and they are driven away by artillery fire. The conclusion:
" 'It all happened,' Lipton summed up, 'because Shifty saw a tree almost a mile away that hadn't been there the day before.' " - p.192 of the trade paperback
A boastful American from Texas was being shown the sights of London by a taxi-driver.
"What's that building there?" asked the Texan.
"That's the Tower of London, sir," replied the taxi-driver.
"Say, we can put up buildings like that in two weeks," drawled the Texan.
A little while later he asked: "And what's that building we're passing now?"
"That's Buckingham Palace, sir, where the Queen lives."
"Is that so?" said the Texan. "Do you know in Texas we could put up a palace like that in a week?"
A few minutes later they were passing Westminster Abbey. The American asked again: "Hey, cabby, what's that building over there?"
"I'm afraid I don't know, sir," replied the taxi driver. "It wasn't there this morning."
Well, it reminds me of a similar acronym used in veterinary medicine: JAR, for "just ain't right". This is where the pet has no externally obvious symptoms of illness, but the owner reports that it hasn't been behaving like its normal cheerful self.
I like how physical security folks exercise poor grammar even in their acronyms.
What is it about law enforcement/physical security that draws people who are often very poorly educated?
@george - It gives the security person a chance to pick on smart people who are aware of their rights and whats right even after they leave the public school system.
In your blog, one of the points that you repeatedly stress is the 'people-dont-get-terrorized' idea. Dont you think this contradicts JDLR.
Interesting point but I think you have overlooked a major difference between terrorism and crime.
Fear of crime may be quite reasonable because there are certainly lots of crimes committed.
Fear of terrorism is much more dubious because terrorist activities, in the political sense of the word, are very rare. For the average citizen, worrying about being a victim of a terrorist offence is ridiculous in comparison with real, common, mundane threats that a lot of us live with such as car crashes, heart attacks and living in antisocial neighbourhoods. If I understand correctly, that is why Bruce advises us to refuse to be terrorised.
George: "I like how physical security folks exercise poor grammar even in their acronyms."
It looks like a well formed verb phrase to me. What do you see as the problem?
@Vijay: This is about /trained/ people thinking it just doesn't look right. The article makes the point that casino staff don't notice these things, but experienced surveillance people do.
This is different from untrained people like me freaking out over something innocent. Bruce's advice is to ignore me, and listen to people who know what they're talking about.
Way to go with the stereotypes. Or maybe you haven't read many documents written by techies.
The people responsible for detecting cheating and the like at casinos generally are the sort that can do a lot of math in their head, but who also have appropriate people skills. And they rose through the ranks after spending time doing jobs that require even more on the fly mathematical ability. Try running a craps table some time if you don't believe me (and running the tables is a prereq for jobs like floor walker and pit boss).
My wife has a story about being at a casino and attracting attention.
It seems that she realized that the noise level was unusual -- nearby sounds were loud but distant sounds didn't seem to carry. So she started looking at the sound deadening features of the ceiling. Shortly afterwards she noticed security people following her around.
I guess she was "hinky" enough to get attention, but the follow-up was inconclusive.
Having govt sponsored terrorists stalking and "hunting" semi-panicked asleep sheep on a 24/7 basis is truly....hinky. Or maybe it's just kinky...in a nice Nazi sort of way.
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