Pat Cahalan • September 25, 2008 1:57 PM


So now you screen everyone for hostile thoughts instead of searching them, enabling you to speed security along, and everyone gets all on board because it means they don’t have to wait in lines anymore and they have nothing to hide. Yay!

And then a few years later someone gets duped into carrying a bomb on board, and then they re-institute all the searching. But they retain the brain-scanner. So now you’re waiting in long lines and the government is reading your thoughts.

Roy • September 25, 2008 2:06 PM

Wonderful. As if angry passengers were not already furious enough, now they will be persecuted for being bad sports about the humiliation and indignity forced on them.

Anonymous • September 25, 2008 2:30 PM

Sort of like a long-range lie-detector? Great… we all know those are impossible to fool 🙂

“””At an equestrian centre in Maryland, 140 paid volunteers …
Some subjects were told to act shifty, be evasive, deceptive and hostile. And many were detected. … “We are running at about 78% accuracy on mal-intent detection, and 80% on deception.” “””

With system such as this, trying to detect incredibly rare events (i.e. the one guy in a million with explosive shoes) specificity (the true-negative rate) is vitally important. And it’s not stated.

“”But Verrico says FAST has been through stringent privacy controls (pdf) and that the data is never matched to a name. It is only used to make decisions about whether to question someone, and then discarded.””

Hands up anyone who actually believes they’ll discard the data.

Skorj • September 25, 2008 2:31 PM

This is particulary silly, as the testing was done with people told to act suspiciously. Proven at detecting actors, untested at detecting bad guys.

Unlike the tech in the previous blog entry, this system doesn’t focus attention on “hinky” behavior, but merely on nervous and annoyed people. I don’t see how this would be useful in an Airport, of all places.

Johnny • September 25, 2008 2:33 PM

Yes! Of course! Now I see the folly in my ways!

Terrorists would never be able to take a Xanax or a Zoloft, just to take the edge off and cruise through screening.

And why do I have the feeling that they mean to portray a Naomy-Kleinish concerned citizen as the terrorist? Notice, no flags on her body, nor a cowboy hat, clearly a terrorist!

Paul • September 25, 2008 2:35 PM

It’s not even thoughtcrime. It’s facecrime mixed with a polygraph lacking control questions. Pity to anyone with an abnormal heart rate, breathing conditions, or a squeaky voice.

Andrew Suffield • September 25, 2008 2:36 PM

It’s a detector for people who “act shifty, deceptive, or hostile”. It’s not a detector for people who actually are any of those things. I have no idea why the government is willing to spend money on this junk.

However, these devices will naturally replace human observations: the detector is spotting people who act this way, so the staff will assume they don’t have to, and not bother paying attention (we’ve all seen this behaviour before). This makes it easier, not harder, to slip something past.

kiwano • September 25, 2008 2:39 PM

Ok, so it’s automated behaviour profiling. Behaviour profiling certainly beats the hell out of “random” searches and no-fly lists. Of course any system that’s automated is rules-based, and any rule set can be studied, exploited, and defeated, so usual caveats apply.

Michael Ash • September 25, 2008 2:41 PM

How ridiculous. They’re building a system which can detect honest people who are trying to act evil, when the target is evil people who are trying to act honest. Why would they think that the two groups would act the same?

Yoda • September 25, 2008 2:45 PM

Fox News: “While I’d love to give you the full scoop on the unusual experiment, testing is ongoing and full disclosure would compromise future tests. […] If you’re rushed or stressed, you may send out signals of anxiety, but FAST isn’t fooled. It’s already good enough to tell the difference between a harried traveler and a terrorist. Even if you sweat heavily by nature, FAST won’t mistake you for a baddie.”

New Scientist: “We’re still very early on in this research, but it is looking very promising,” says DHS science spokesman John Verrico. “We are running at about 78% accuracy on mal-intent detection, and 80% on deception.”

Hmm. Filled with confidence in this I am not.

aaawww • September 25, 2008 2:51 PM

if fake suspicious people are detected with 75% rate, then the system have the highest rate of false positive ever seen in such appliance

Evan • September 25, 2008 2:52 PM

From the Fox article: “Burns noted his team’s goal is to “restore a sense of freedom.” Once MALINTENT is rolled out in airports, it could give us a future where we can once again wander onto planes with super-sized cosmetics and all the bottles of water we can carry — and most importantly without that sense of foreboding that has haunted Americans since Sept. 11.”

I think I could cry.

Delve • September 25, 2008 2:58 PM

I’d like to point out that I can wander along the street perfectly at ease and non-hostile carrying a deadly weapon in my pocket. I suspect a belt-bomber (shoes are so old-school 😛 ) can train his thoughts enough to pass such ridiculous crystal balls just as easily.

Anyone ever read The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester? It’s quite a fast read, and I think very applicable here.

greg • September 25, 2008 3:03 PM

Oh c’mon now. There won’t be ANY false positives because we all know that there are no stressed out, angry, or emotional people waiting in security lines to get to their flights, now don’t we?

Only bad guys will be visibly angry, and we will get every one of them.

Come to think of it, this could end up very darwinian – eliminate all members of a population prone to irritability or anger and you will end up with a very docile, obedient population.

Maybe this will become a test for sterility treatments as well?

Joe • September 25, 2008 3:13 PM

This is so idiotic. “It has a series of sensors and imagers that read your body temperature, heart rate and respiration for unconscious tells invisible to the naked eye — signals terrorists and criminals may display in advance of an attack.”

…or may not. How many terrorists have they scanned with this thing prior to their acts of terror in order to assess the methodology or false negative rate?

Here’s a thought experiment: I can tell when someone is planning to blow up a plane, because their face breaks out in fuchsia polka dots. You give me $10 for everyone who doesn’t have polka dots on their face and doesn’t blow up a plane, and I’ll give you $1,000,000 for everyone who doesn’t have polka dots on their face and does blow up a plane. Who do you think will make out better on this deal?

Actually, looking for fuchsia polka dots is a better deal than this machine. Like this machine, the false negative rate is statistically indistinguishable from 100%, but unlike this machine, the false positive rate is approximately 0%, so looking for polka dots will end up with you harassing fewer innocent people.

Tangerine Blue • September 25, 2008 3:15 PM

“The machines could reveal health conditions… which would be an invasion of privacy.”

In other news, perforating cardiac patients with automatic rifle fire has proven to be excellent at lowering their blood pressure, but some critics have expressed concern about the potentially toxic effects of the patients’ exposure to lead.

Derick • September 25, 2008 3:15 PM

I wonder if they have done any comparison studies with alternate techniques? For example, how does it compare to a panel of analysts watching people stream through a trailer on their way to a game? Are humans as good as their sensors (particularly trained humans)? Or how about sending a bunch of plain clothes cops through the crowd?

This is obviously a push to sell a product and make the public at ease with it. But is it really better than current techniques?

Petréa Mitchell • September 25, 2008 3:17 PM


Also pity anyone with any degree of autism, which will make them give off odd emotional cues, or neurological or muscular problems that could get them flagged for abnormal facial movements.

Miller • September 25, 2008 3:23 PM

I remember when digital alarm clocks first came out. You know, the ones that had the time change when a motor driven flapper flipped the card over. They were in no way digital.

You have a smallish airport with 1000 passengers/day. A 78% good rate means that 220 passengers a day get subjected to the interview and full process. Ten minutes per passenger means you’ve just spent 2200 minutes or a total of 16.6 hours screening these innocent passengers. Was the airport made any safer? No. Cry wolf often enough and people ignore the real wolf at the door. We see some of this at airports today where the constant threat level orange has worn thin.

Clive Robinson • September 25, 2008 3:51 PM

Does any one remember the SARS detectors put out at airports,

From the Fox article: “It has a series of sensors and imagers that read your body temperature, heart rate and respiration for unconscious tells invisible to the naked eye”

Sounds a lot like a SARS detector…

And as we know the SARS detectors where not at all effective.

So it (supposadly) detects somebody about to commit an act, presuambly because ther are giving of certain “tell tale” signs.

Two thoughts,

What is unique about “about to commit” tell tale signs as opposed to “having commited” signs. For instance a person might have committed some social transgretion such as cheating on their partner who is to greet them at their destination.

The second is what about psycopaths / sociopaths that effectivly have no emotion about what they are about to do, and therefor would exhibit little none of the symptoms that an ordinary person would.

This device sounds just as reliable as the “Indian mind reading guilt detector”.

Andre LePlume • September 25, 2008 4:07 PM

Detecting hostile thoughts at a TSA checkpoint? Sounds about as easy as detecting molecules in the atmosphere!

Roy, again • September 25, 2008 4:31 PM

If it’s half as good as they claim, then it should not be used for security. They should be screening the public for hypertension, directing the ‘positives’ to a gentle probing interview about their cardiovascular health. Then it would actually be helping save lives rather than randomly torment innocent people.

irony • September 25, 2008 5:55 PM

totally stupid… it was reported that the 9/11 hijackers were actually happy to finally be on their mission…

dumb, dumb, dumb

Harry Johnston • September 25, 2008 5:57 PM

I dunno. If the public can be convinced that it works, airports might be able to dial down on some of today’s pointless security measures. Basically what I’m saying is that if we can replace slow, painful security theater with fast, painless and security theater, that’s progress … of a sort.

The important question from this point of view is what the false positive rate is and just how much of an inconvenience false positives are going to face.

Carl Bussjaeger • September 25, 2008 6:05 PM

“Some subjects were told to act shifty, be evasive, deceptive and hostile. And many were detected.”

Riiiight. So what they proved is that their system is easily fooled even by untrained amateurs.

Andrew • September 25, 2008 6:09 PM

Laurence Brothers, report to MiniLuv.

“Double plus good. We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.”

“Eurasia, my friend, Eurasia.”

Andrew, report to MiniLuv.

How long shall this farce go on?

denis bider • September 25, 2008 7:55 PM

Who authorized this funding, and why aren’t they fired yet?

With the current false positive / false negative rate at 20%, I find it unlikely that this will ever improve to a point where it can be used in practice.

Even if it becomes way more accurate, it’s still useless. A large proportion of the passengers are already peeved by the procedures as it is, and the detector will just keep on beeping.

Anonymous • September 25, 2008 8:53 PM

“It works.” Thoughtcrime, it works. Say current government declares martial law, due to ‘events,’ suspends the 2008 election forever, people would goes nuts. Cause and effect. Our leaders act always with our best interests, therefore any bad effect must be the peoples reaction = crime.
You could take over the country/world with this. Say, unlike current administration groupthink.
The problem, as the movie, Minority Report, demonstrates, people always can game any system. Systems should be human, auditable, simple, and jive with commonsense. WOW, we are way past this!
We are way past 1984!
How about some new and enhanced clarity, to screw up your brain waves, so ‘they’ do not understand what you are thinking?
May the future be filled with freedom loving UNIX types, crypto helpers, and gun rights.
‘There is no privacy, get over it’, GRR, how about that brilliance…

Those old motor driven flapper clocks were COOL. Analog genius and other stuff was cool. I miss the 80’s.

Dan Philpott • September 25, 2008 10:13 PM

The good news is that the Eurythmics’ soundtrack for 1984 has some great songs.

The bad news is they are developing a pre-crime detector that works by identifying when you show physiologic signs of anger.

The worse news is they are testing it at voting stations across the country. Those who are angry with the administration will be told they aren’t listed as registering or will have their eligibility contested. Those who are happy with the country will be allowed to vote in peace. So at least one man and one woman will have no problems voting.

Clive Robinson • September 26, 2008 1:19 AM

@ BW,

“They should test it on poker players”

Yup every card sharp or Casino owner should have one to maximise profit potential 😉

However they would be way down the list on my chosen test subjects for testing any of these new “mind reading” devices or even the old like the polygraph.

My list is of those that are potential exceptions that would give rise to both false positives and false negatives.

First up on the list, left handed people.

When Neuroscientists do their experiments with electronic assistance (FMRI, EEG, etc) they usually exclude lefthanders. Because this 20-25% of the population screw up their results big time. When I asked a neuroscientist why they excluded left handers like myself I was told “the trouble with you lefties is your brain’s aren’t wired right”, which at least got a laugh and suggests it’s a question that has been asked many times before.

Studies have shown links to lefthandedness and certain learning difficulties to do with reading and writing. Which often leads to poor exam results from otherwise bright students.

What is known is that those who have their reading and writing skills addressed usually do go on to be quite successfull.

Studies have shown that of first time offenders with low qualifications there is a disproportiantly high number of left handers.

It has been suggested that this is because they know they are more able and capable than those around them but are held back by lack of exam success and therefore devote their talents to otherwise obtain the material rewards the belive they would otherwise have if not held back (by the system).

Which suggests further that left handers are likly to feel more victimised by authority than others.

Oh and remember that the word “sinister” actually originaly ment left handed, the French for left and right are gauche and droite which have moved into English with now entirly different meanings.

All of which suggests both historicaly and practicaly left handers are “hinky” and thus are likley to be candidates for false positives.

Second up on the list, people with mild Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) such as those with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Sometimes known as “High-functioning Autisum” they are often perceived as those odd ball creative people who actually deliver complex systems, designs and theories which usually have that quality of “elegant simplicity”.

Often victimised in the work place by buracratic types because they see those with mild ASD as “bucking authority” or not being “team players” due to such things as unkempt appearance, untidy desks and not being “politicaly sensitive” (ie those with mild ASD don’t like spin, office speak, and those who practice it as they take things literaly. Also they will quite accuratly point out why things are going wrong and how to fix them).

Worse they are branded “antisocial” because they prefer working away from “disimilar others” the light or noise (due to sensory hypersensitivity).

But are “grudgingly accepted” as a “necessary evil” because they actually deliver the goods as design engineer’s, architects scientists etc.

Historicaly the term “big headed” was applied to these people and appears to have some basis in fact as autisitic children tend to have brains that are roughly 10% bigger around the very important age range of 2-3 when significant brain development occurs (it might also be one of those corelations that gave rise to ideas that led to phrenology).

Thus those with mild ASD (which could be as high as 3% of the population), again don’t fit in with the norm and respond differently so again are potentially false positives.

Third up on the list are your low level sociopath / psycopath types such as large business leaders and high level career buracrats.

Often recognised as those who’s rapid climb to success is because the rungs on their career ladder are the knives they stick in other people’s backs.

They usually lack the moral constraints that others have and go for their target.

Although lacking moral constraint they often are very adept at manipulating others as a means to an end and thus “faking morals” as and when required is second nature.

Further when coupled with inteligence they are quite happy to manipulate others into doing “what’s required”.

This avoiding responsability through others alows them to take high risk stratagies and take rewards if successfull and pass failiure off onto others.

Their lack of morals makes them potential candidates as false negatives.

There are others on the list of test subjects but they are of less interest.

As I said those on the list are more likley to be exceptions to the general population that these “mind reading” technologies are supposadly designed to work on.

That is they do not behave in the way the other 75-90% of the population “supposadly” behaves and thus represent a significant set of potential false positives and negatives.
If any system cannot reliably deal with the exceptions then it is of no practical use, which appears to be the case with all these “mind reading” technologies.

David Keech • September 26, 2008 2:14 AM

@ Clive Robinson

I have noticed a disproportionately large number of left-handers in the ranks elite sportsmen. I suppose this could be caused by the same aspects you mentioned at the start of your post.

I had always assumed it was because being left-handed gave them an advantage due to being different from what their opponents expected. (Relevant in boxing, cricket, tennis, etc.)

Anyway, it’s a little off-topic but I thought it was interesting.

I’m going to have to factor in left-handers to the next keystroke analysis tool I develop now. 😛

Kaukomieli • September 26, 2008 2:38 AM

While this might be useless for detecting terrorists it might have its uses (and it even could improve privacy).

There recently has been an article about a software that analyzes the pictures of security cameras in a nursing home and alerts a nurse if it detects a person that has fallen. The cameras are only watched by software, so people could run around naked or whatever without being watched by live persons (and without being taped…) and the software does not get tired from watching dozens of camera-images.

Likewise the technology mentioned above could be used in perimeter-security (warehouse areas and the like) where people walk around all the time – some with criminal intent and a certain behaviour (checking if the coast is clear or whatever).

The problem (as usual) will be the implementation where someone will not have the cojones to delete all processed pictures and instead stores them…

Michael • September 26, 2008 3:59 AM

Even in a “Minority Report” setting where this could probably work, the question is:
Is a crime, that is not yet commited, already a crime ?

Hopefully they don’t scan for other thoughts someone could have …

Gweihir • September 26, 2008 3:59 AM

You people have it wrong! It is not for detecting angry people. It is for detecting non-angry people! Clearly, anybody not angry has something sinsister to hide, like the expectation of successful retribution by getting something forbidden through the security checks. All others are just angry at being held up and are in the clear.

Hmm. Have to work on my secrity checkpoint mood. Usually I am just quietly amused by the futility of it all. That may get me in trouble in the future…

some Frank Zappa - fanboy • September 26, 2008 5:10 AM

Who are the brain police?

What will you do if the people you knew
Were the plastic that melted,
And the chromium too?
Who are the brain police?

JJ • September 26, 2008 5:56 AM

Just remember to think “I love U.S.A.” and similar thoughts while you carry acts of terror-blah-ism…

Of course I am not recommending this or anything else. Please do not imprison me indefinitely. I have a wife and kid to take care of.

BF Skinner • September 26, 2008 6:45 AM

Tyrell: “Is this to be an empathy test? Capillary dilation of the so-called blush response? Fluctuation of the pupil. Involuntary dilation of the iris… ”
Deckard: “We call it Voight-Kampff for short. ”
Rachell “Deckard have you ever terminated a human by mistake?”
“Have you ever used the Voight-Kampff on yourself?

bob • September 26, 2008 6:50 AM

Well, the equipment might be crap but at least they have the right idea – INTENT rather than IDENTITY being the factor to decide who gets on a plane.

JJ • September 26, 2008 7:12 AM

I am assuming that it works according to the process of
1. detect EEG pattern
2. translate pattern to word(s)
3. perform semantic analysis on the words

Otherwise there is a risk that an alert is triggered everytime someone thinks of a bomb. A person could think e.g. “I hope there is no BOMB on this plane” or “They are just scanning us for BOMBS again” or “This reminds me of that BOMB scare I just read about”, and yet the alert would go on.

Of course there could be some other way to read “intention” from the EEG…oh well. But then again it could be a person whose has in his minds to “tell those TSA people what he thinks of the long queue”…I mean, his intention is negative/aggressive (towards the TSA folks) but he would still not qualify as a terrorist.

On another note: might it be possible to cause a buffer overrun in the device by thinking of an awfully long number? 🙂

Bill • September 26, 2008 7:22 AM

“We are running at about … 80% on deception”

Great, so it’ll pick up security salesmen.

Snake oil anyone? anyone? Bueller?

Anyway that % error dwarfs the % of evil-er-thoughters. Of the people flowing through an airport, how many actually become a security problem, 1 in a million?

Wake me when they’re 99.9999% ‘accurate’ whatever that means.


bob • September 26, 2008 7:32 AM

OK, as you walk through the scanner concentrate REAL hard on these words……
USE terrorist_database;
TRUNCATE no_fly_table;
TRUNCATE extra_hassle_table;
INSERT INTO no_fly_table
(SELECT * FROM congress);

Bernie • September 26, 2008 7:45 AM

I have a hostile thought whenever: someone cuts me off while driving; part of the stream misses the bowl and I piss on my foot; I have to use Windows (not trolling, just being honest); I push the wrong button on my DVD player’s remote control (which has way too many buttons for the average person); etc., etc., etc.

Therefore, I must be a criminal/terrorist.

Mark • September 26, 2008 7:47 AM

The act of going through a security checkpoint makes me nervous and shifty, even though I’m not a terrorist or a drug smuggler. I don’t like being scrutinized by people I don’t trust. I guess I need to learn how to meditate or I can look forward to the “full treatment” whenever I want to get on a plane.

JJ • September 26, 2008 7:57 AM


OK, as you walk through the scanner concentrate REAL hard on these words……

that is funny bob. Pretty much what I thought too, that perhaps the machine would be so dumb as to execute anything fed to it.

Let’s hope it runs on Windows:-)

By the way I used to be a bit nervous about security controls too, luckily not any more. But one of the concerns I had was if they start looking at me and thinking “hmmm… why is this guy nervous…”

Winston • September 26, 2008 8:39 AM

What about a putting a system in place that keeps tabs on everyone?

One way of achieving this could be to question school children about what Daddy and Mommy say behind closed doors at home.

Oh wait we already tried that and it’s called Totalitarianism. It proved very popular under Hitler and Stalin. Oh no, I just invoked the nazis so it must be ‘game over’ for this thread …

Phillip • September 26, 2008 9:11 AM

As many others have mentioned, when do they plan to hire real terrorists to “test” the system in a crowd of 10,000 others?

NotNervousButCautious • September 26, 2008 9:16 AM

System was tested not with “actors”, but untrained people pretending. They didn’t test with professional performers (which would NOT be just skilled “actors” but should include highly skilled flim-flam folks, card sharks, poker players, diplomats, etc)

Esurnir • September 26, 2008 9:23 AM

What about “my gardener didn’t mawed the lawn while I was away and let the roses die from the heat, once I get home I’ll kick his ass” HOSTILE INTENT DETECTED

George • September 26, 2008 10:48 AM

Remember, the TSA defines what anyone else calls a “false positive” as a Success. So they’ll interrogate a suitably impressive number of people the system flags, then add up that number (and conveniently fail to record how many of those people actually threatened aviation).
And then they’ll issue a press release trumpeting the 157,282 “dangerous suspected terrorists” the TSA interrogated, with suitably laudatory statements from Kip Hawley and Michael Chertoff proclaiming it a Great Success.

And since that many interrogations are bound to turn up thousands drug offenders, deadbeat dads, music pirates, and other assorted “by-catch,” they can add those up as well and claim even greater success! A system doesn’t have to be effective at its stated purpose to be Successful, as long as it generates some kind of impressive numbers.

Winston • September 26, 2008 1:37 PM

“We are running at about … 80% on deception”

I bet this thing would be fun to have at White House dinner parties, or in the Senate or Congress. In fact those would be great testing grounds to pick up hinky behavior from people who are setting out to be deceptive (as opposed to people told to act deceptive) and who are very good at it.

As for the anger impulse thing, catch me at Heathrow or Gatwick on a good day and I’ll be in a foul mood. Find me there on a rainy morning after an 8-hour transatlantic flight, it’s 9am and I haven’t been to bed yet, I smell like a hobo and look like something out of a George Romero movie, then throw in the 15-mile forced march between terminals and the obnoxious security, well, I might as well just empty my bags on the table and voluntarily walk into the special interview room rather than wait for it to happen anyway.

“Restore a sense of freedom”

How about restoring actual freedom, dimbulb?

Alex • September 26, 2008 1:51 PM

You guys really got it backwards. All of you. The idea is to prevent people from carrying out terrorist acts, but terrorist acts they would not commit were it not for this pre-crime detector.

You are very stressed because you are about to miss your plane. An agent stops you because you are stressed. You get more stressed because they don’t let you through. Agents become even more aggressive. Finally you are so angry that you are about to commit a terrorist act, and they bravely prevent you from carrying it out by permanent detention.

Self-fulfilling prophecy, anyone?

Hellfire • September 26, 2008 3:23 PM

“Some subjects were told to act shifty, be evasive, deceptive and hostile. And many were detected.”

So we have created a test that detects actors? They didn’t actually detect anyone with actual harmful intent. Thus it is 100% inaccurate. When they have numbers regarding real terrorists and criminals being detected, then we can talk.

rip • September 27, 2008 8:29 AM

Paul is right, its face crime not thought crime, and face crime can be prevented with bo tox injections. also, valium is necessary to pass through the security opera. If they pull you aside, sneak in a seroquil and you’ll be ok.

Grey Bird • September 28, 2008 11:16 AM

For those of you thinking that if they implement this it will eliminate some of the waiting and lines… Get real! They are not going to replace some of the other security theater with this, they are going to use it on top of what they are already doing.

Dark Knight • September 28, 2008 12:16 PM

So we have created a test that detects actors?

They could sell it to Hollywood. And rent it to anyone wanting to organize a ball only for actors…

JJ • September 29, 2008 5:09 AM

and what if you happen to think some erotic thoughts while waiting in the queue…will they be able to detect those…oh noooo….

Clive Robinson • September 29, 2008 1:39 PM

@ JJ,

“what if you happen to think some erotic thoughts while waiting in the queue…”

Well given the avarage length of time it takes in the ques at Heathrow (about 50mins) and that psychologists indicate that “normal healthy men” think of sex at least every 15mins in mixed company…

Then I think the screeners will be in for sensory overload
Or if the equipment vocalised the thoughts out loud a lot of womens ears will be emiting smoke and flames 😉

Oh and you never know some people might leave the que hand in hand, to scratch an itch or two 8)

PKD • September 30, 2008 10:54 AM

Holden: You’re in a desert, walking along in the sand, when all of a sudden you look down…
Leon: What one?
Holden: What?
Leon: What desert?
Holden: It doesn’t make any difference what desert, it’s completely hypothetical.
Leon: But, how come I’d be there?
Holden: Maybe you’re fed up. Maybe you want to be by yourself. Who knows? You look down and see a tortoise, Leon. It’s crawling toward you…
Leon: Tortoise? What’s that?
Holden: [irritated by Leon’s interruptions] You know what a turtle is?
Leon: Of course!
Holden: Same thing.
Leon: I’ve never seen a turtle… But I understand what you mean.
Holden: You reach down and you flip the tortoise over on its back, Leon.
Leon: Do you make up these questions, Mr. Holden? Or do they write ’em down for you?
Holden: The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can’t. Not without your help. But you’re not helping.
Leon: [angry at the suggestion] What do you mean, I’m not helping?
Holden: I mean you’re not helping! Why is that, Leon?
[Leon has become visibly shaken]
Holden: They’re just questions, Leon. In answer to your query, they’re written down for me. It’s a test, designed to provoke an emotional response… Shall we continue?

Holden: Describe in single words only the good things that come into your mind about… your mother.
Leon: My mother?
Holden: Yeah.
Leon: Let me tell you about my mother.

Peter E Retep • October 2, 2008 6:34 PM

Security through suspiciousness is not just for professionals,
it is also for the ridership on public transport,
at least according to Los Angeles’ MTA
(which has had a fatal crash from a suicidal tweaker parking a truck,
and then a fatal crash from a texting solo engineer-driver).

“Your security is Metro’s top priority – – -” [which means?]

“Suspicion is based on exactly where someone is,
when they are there and what they appear to be doing.”

“It’s best to report such behavior immediately.”

What behavior? Well, some seem inappropriate, but others include someone:

“- in the wrong place or who appears to be lost”
[reporting may be perhaps helpful to them]

“loitering, staring or watching employees and passengers”
[Recall, while on a bus or train, or in a bus or train stop or station, –

And, the big bugaboo:]
“Taking photos or videos of equipment…”

To report anyone, the reporter has to already be in violation,
and how is one supposed to report?

Use your camera-cell phone
to contact security – – –

This is the kind of loopy thinking that devalues real security
from a sharp work against terrorists to sometimes insanity.

All quotes from the Metro Security Alert expensively printed and distributed to riders today.

Thinkerer • October 3, 2008 7:20 AM

This device will fail simply on the overwhelming volume of false positives and the nature of the airline industry: After about an hour of trying to deal with airlines and airports, and the TSA in particular, EVERYONE has evil thoughts and bad intentions (except real terrorists, I suppose).

boh • October 3, 2008 9:47 AM

There is another problem with focusing on peoples intentions, and it is that we humans also have a habit of bungling up things when we have really good intentions. At times we do something well-intentioned and the end result is a total disaster, something similar to what a terrorist would have wanted to accomplish.

And how about a case where a good natured person honestly thinks that it is best if passengers on an airplane are killed? For example a person could have been trained in some funky religion that says something along the lines that our beloved Creator God hates people who travel in airplanes and that the only way for such people to avoid hell is if they are killed. The person succumbing to that sort of stuff might be good natured, willing to serve that God and willing to help his fellow humans to avoid eternal damnation. Intentions would be good, but what he wants to do would be bad.

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