Metal Detectors at Sports Stadiums

Fans attending Major League Baseball games are being greeted in a new way this year: with metal detectors at the ballparks. Touted as a counterterrorism measure, they're nothing of the sort. They're pure security theater: They look good without doing anything to make us safer. We're stuck with them because of a combination of buck passing, CYA thinking, and fear.

As a security measure, the new devices are laughable. The ballpark metal detectors are much more lax than the ones at an airport checkpoint. They aren't very sensitive -- people with phones and keys in their pockets are sailing through -- and there are no X-ray machines. Bags get the same cursory search they've gotten for years. And fans wanting to avoid the detectors can opt for a "light pat-down search" instead.

There's no evidence that this new measure makes anyone safer. A halfway competent ticketholder would have no trouble sneaking a gun into the stadium. For that matter, a bomb exploded at a crowded checkpoint would be no less deadly than one exploded in the stands. These measures will, at best, be effective at stopping the random baseball fan who's carrying a gun or knife into the stadium. That may be a good idea, but unless there's been a recent spate of fan shootings and stabbings at baseball games -- and there hasn't -- this is a whole lot of time and money being spent to combat an imaginary threat.

But imaginary threats are the only ones baseball executives have to stop this season; there's been no specific terrorist threat or actual intelligence to be concerned about. MLB executives forced this change on ballparks based on unspecified discussions with the Department of Homeland Security after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. Because, you know, that was also a sporting event.

This system of vague consultations and equally vague threats ensure that no one organization can be seen as responsible for the change. MLB can claim that the league and teams "work closely" with DHS. DHS can claim that it was MLB's initiative. And both can safely relax because if something happens, at least they did something.

It's an attitude I've seen before: "Something must be done. This is something. Therefore, we must do it." Never mind if the something makes any sense or not.

In reality, this is CYA security, and it's pervasive in post-9/11 America. It no longer matters if a security measure makes sense, if it's cost-effective or if it mitigates any actual threats. All that matters is that you took the threat seriously, so if something happens you won't be blamed for inaction. It's security, all right -- security for the careers of those in charge.

I'm not saying that these officials care only about their jobs and not at all about preventing terrorism, only that their priorities are skewed. They imagine vague threats, and come up with correspondingly vague security measures intended to address them. They experience none of the costs. They're not the ones who have to deal with the long lines and confusion at the gates. They're not the ones who have to arrive early to avoid the messes the new policies have caused around the league. And if fans spend more money at the concession stands because they've arrived an hour early and have had the food and drinks they tried to bring along confiscated, so much the better, from the team owners' point of view.

I can hear the objections to this as I write. You don't know these measures won't be effective! What if something happens? Don't we have to do everything possible to protect ourselves against terrorism?

That's worst-case thinking, and it's dangerous. It leads to bad decisions, bad design and bad security. A better approach is to realistically assess the threats, judge security measures on their effectiveness and take their costs into account. And the result of that calm, rational look will be the realization that there will always be places where we pack ourselves densely together, and that we should spend less time trying to secure those places and more time finding terrorist plots before they can be carried out.

So far, fans have been exasperated but mostly accepting of these new security measures. And this is precisely the problem -- most of us don't care all that much. Our options are to put up with these measures, or stay home. Going to a baseball game is not a political act, and metal detectors aren't worth a boycott. But there's an undercurrent of fear as well. If it's in the name of security, we'll accept it. As long as our leaders are scared of the terrorists, they're going to continue the security theater. And we're similarly going to accept whatever measures are forced upon us in the name of security. We're going to accept the National Security Agency's surveillance of every American, airport security procedures that make no sense and metal detectors at baseball and football stadiums. We're going to continue to waste money overreacting to irrational fears.

We no longer need the terrorists. We're now so good at terrorizing ourselves.

This essay previously appeared in the Washington Post.

Posted on April 15, 2015 at 6:58 AM • 98 Comments

Comments

JebApril 15, 2015 7:18 AM

I call it "National Security Welfare".

Just like the STASI had a sizable percentage of the population on the payroll as informers, so too will the USA mass surveillance state and others needing to prop up a weak economy with meaningless socialistic job programs.

I recall in the early days of Chinese Communism it was politically necessary to have full employment, so millions were hired by the government to sweep the streets with hand brooms or pick up roadside litter.

DHS fake security jobs are the same thing: Police state welfare.

Frank Ch. EiglerApril 15, 2015 8:17 AM

Bruce, you're right on with most of it, but I must take objection at the conclusion that we're "terrorizing ourselves". Security theater & needless inconvenience is not terrorism, unless you redefine that word way down.

paulApril 15, 2015 8:32 AM

How long until they set up special lines for the folks in box seats, for people willing to pay extra for a pass and so forth? And if it turns out that these measures kill attendance there are probably contract provisions with the local city/town that indemnify the clubs.

GErryApril 15, 2015 8:48 AM

"And if fans spend more money at the concession stands because they've arrived an hour early and have had the food and drinks they tried to bring along confiscated, so much the better, from the team owners' point of view."

This is all about scanning patrons for beer cans and other beverage containers. The appeals to "security" are, as is so often the case, just cover

SteveApril 15, 2015 10:05 AM

"That's worst-case thinking, and it's dangerous."

While I'm in general agreement about security theater, I'm not so sure about worst-case thinking being necessarily a bad thing.

Without worst-case thinking we wouldn't have air bags or seat belts in automobiles -- after all, the majority of auto trips are completed without incident, so why should we waste our money in "safety theater" like passenger protection systems?

Sometimes not thinking about the worst-case ends in disaster: consider Fukushima or the flooding of New Orleans.

I'm with GErry. . . it's more about finding "contraband" beer and soda than it is about security.

AdrianApril 15, 2015 10:12 AM

The metal detectors are purely theater, but perhaps a little theater is necessary to make the fans _feel_ safe.

KevinApril 15, 2015 10:18 AM

This is true security theater, in order to reduce false positives, the wands they use are set to very low sensitivity, might detect a large handgun but not anything smaller. I am not even sure if they would trigger on a stack of aluminum beer cans.

How long before the 7-11s and package stores nearest the stadium start carrying beer and liquor in plastic bottles?

Clive RobinsonApril 15, 2015 10:21 AM

@ Frank Ch. Eigler,

Security theater & needless inconvenience is not terrorism, unless you redefine that word way down.

Or you go back to it's original meaning. In times past it was the "powers that be" that "terrorised" those they forced into being subjects of their terrorist behaviour.

Cal Dipstick, Jr.April 15, 2015 10:24 AM

Metal detectors or patdowns so I can (a) watch double-digit-IQ knuckledraggers on steroids kick/throw/hit a ball, in (b) a stadium that my local taxes paid for so some trillionaire team owner can harvest trillions more, and where (c) I have to pay multiple times the going rate for a cup of carbonated horse piss and a chem-dog?

Yeah, can't wait to get right down there.

Add all the "security" you want, you Nazi dimbulbs.

paulApril 15, 2015 10:34 AM

@Steve: I think you misinterpret the mean of "worst-case thinking" here. Worst-case thinking for cars would involve mandatory 5-point harnesses before engine start, speed governors to make driver/passenger fatalities effectively impossible, and so forth. Sensible risk analysis asks about expected costs and outcomes; although most car trips are completed safely, there are enough accidents -- and the damage to unrestrained passengers is significant enough even in moderate crashes -- that the incremental cost per injury or death avoided is not so high. (Fukushima and New Orleans are examples of ignoring actual risk assessment -- both disasters were predicted under even moderately bad conditions.)

Worst-case thinking draws resources away from risk reductions that could be useful.

Peter GalbavyApril 15, 2015 10:34 AM

I'm not sure on the general policy in the US for sports events like this, but in addition to the habituation exercise that this is, there is also a hidden agenda to possibly detect and exclude "professional" cameras and other recording equipment? Protecting revenue seems to be the primary driving force of all professional sports globally.

Clive RobinsonApril 15, 2015 10:40 AM

@ Bruce,

. Al that matters is that you took the threat seriously, so if something happens you won't be blamed for inaction. It's security, all right -- security for the careers of those in charge. something happens you won't be blamed for inaction.

I don't think you have thought far enough on this.

Think about banks and Chip-n-Pin cards and other things like floating seats on aircraft and even life jackets on aircraft.

It's a mixture of externalising risk and it's associated legal liability and minimising the cost to achive that goal.

Those metal detectors will pick up some offensive devices / weapons so in court that effectivly stops liability from their customers and their relatives if something does go wrong. They have effectivly passed the risk onto the manufacturer / supplier of the detectors and the security firm that operates them for the stadiums.

Thus the cost of the detectors gets offset by the reduction in insurance etc, so the cost is actually quite a lot less, and as you note the increase in food/drink revenue will offset that cost into long term profit.

So rational behaviour if looked at this way. The only way it ceases to be rational is if a court decieds that the stadium owner/operator knew beyond reasonable doubt --or should have due to industry best practice-- that the metal detectors were inaddiquate for the stated purpose... And I suspect their lawyers have already got this covered by weasily contracts with subcontractors.

BardiApril 15, 2015 10:44 AM

The very act of visible "security" paraphernalia is to reinforce a hint coming from a "worst case scenario" which, many times, has nothing to do with terrorism, per se, but CYA. Such visible "security paraphernalia" invites attempts to crack it, from putting beer in non-magnetic containers to plastic Glocks.

Real security (meaning security for the attendees and not job security for the staff) is not obvious or even detectable by a casual observer. The fact that the "masses" have accepted this faux-security is an insult to our collective intellect and diverts any attempts at real security. The entire meme destabilizes our community, making any "security event" a trigger for more volatile reactions.

It is like a community consumed by a meme, say, a blah raping a young white girl and when an otherwise innocent and non-violent interaction of a blah with a girl, inevitably results in a lynching.

In that manner, it is, indeed, terrorism.

wiredogApril 15, 2015 10:58 AM

"a bomb exploded at a crowded checkpoint would be no less deadly than one exploded in the stands."

I think that every time I go through security at Dulles or National. I'm still a bit surprised that no one hit shopping malls at Christmas, either. So many soft targets that can't really be hardened.

SoWhatDidYouExpectApril 15, 2015 11:00 AM

Indeed, this is CYA, whether at its best or at its worst is open for discussion.

Overall, it is about influence, intimidation, and control. Look what Homeland Security has done for the country...now it is time to take the next steps. The original PNAC declaration called for another "Pearl Harbor", and the time was ripe for an equivalent measure, which was the Boston Marathon bombing. Homeland Security was struggling for moving into the next phase of locking down stuff. School shootings have done their job but the movie theater shootings didn't quite cut it (ergo, the marathon bombing). Currently, oil tanker derailments and explosions will ultimately force approval of more pipelines, somewhat as a safety and security measure to avoid problems where the trains run. I expect political conventions will be targeted as well (hey, great movie plot threat).

By the way, at least one 2016 political candidate has brought out the "New American Century" line of thought from the PNAC days. It seems that kind of reasoning foreshadows disaster as we know it from 9/11 until now.

I have always thought the TSA measures were good enough reason to stop flying. Now, the faux security measures at ballparks are good enough reason to stop attending games. However, there is something illogical here, as the newly announced face recognition stuff would not want to deter attendance but instead promote attendance so the technology could be used to find all those terrorists (yeah, for sure).

Jon MarcusApril 15, 2015 11:31 AM

I usually carry a pocket knife with me for sentimental reasons. I recently went to a Chicago Bulls game and saw that there were metal detectors. I was resigned to hiking back to my car to leave the knife behind. But I sailed through the detectors with no problem. I had the knife, a key ring with a dozen keys, and a few bucks in change in one pocket. That's certainly enough metal to construct something dangerous. I thought it might be a single malfunctioning detector. Evidently it's a system of deliberately non-functioning detectors.

MarcusApril 15, 2015 11:47 AM

It seems to be, as you say, a bad case of CYA, and we do desperately need to join in a rational conversation over the risk and benefits as you say. That's pretty much everything there is to say about this kind of thing.

One other issue is people may be (of course probably are) normally distributed for risk tolerance, and like a lot of strong preferences or biases which are presumably the result of a large number of interacting random variables, it's might be hard to change their bearer's minds.

If you were playing duck duck goose with the relevant decision makers up the line, at some point, you'll meet someone with a low level of risk tolerance (goose!) who also has the power to force his view on everyone preceding him in authority.

People like this who can't tolerate risk and argue for more security measures obviously also have a built in advantage over people who argue for doing nothing, since the second group of people can never be definitely vindicated the way the first group can, and everyone knows it.

I know at least one Security Guy who will not permit his family to attend just these types of mass sporting events, even in a town which worships same. They're too juicy a target in his estimation and too indefensible (thus, CYA theater).

I know another statistician who will not permit both his children to fly on the same flight, less the totality of genetic contribution be wiped from the face of the earth. He has a point.

Maybe here's something about being regularly professionally exposed to the quantitative and qualitative descriptions of risk which increases your risk aversion.

But then there's the Wallenda family.

Just some examples of people who are at different points of some hypothetical risk tolerance scale. To change things you have to have some understanding the of forces driving them. Maybe there is directly relevant research to be referenced in sociology or psychology.

Anyway, my own theory is baseball is so inherently boring that the MLB owners are attempting to grouse up some excitement for it in any way they can. It's the only sport where nothing happening - a no hitter- is considered an event of note. I think people go there to feel like a kid again, smell the smells, feel the crowd, drink beer, swear, shout, indulge in bad food, briefly tap into vestigial emotions of meaningful victory or defeat and generally regress to about 300 BCE or so before having to go back to their cubicles.

jonesApril 15, 2015 12:18 PM

This might be a little more than "security theatre."

Specifically, this might be a subsidy.

During the Cold War the government subsidized the manufacture of tens of thousands of nuclear warheads that were effectively useless -- mutual assured destruction was the policy that ensured the uselessness of the Cold War nuclear weapon subsidies.

During the War on Terror, the government subsidizes the manufacture of props for security theatre. The nature of terrorism as a threat -- that is, a statistical anomaly far less dangerous than driving or smoking -- ensures the uselessness of these new subsidies. But the metal detectors are nevertheless more than security theatre -- they are also subsidies.

SJApril 15, 2015 12:19 PM

I remember a discussion here a few years back.

There was a news story of a bomb-threat at Comerica Park in Detroit.

Park management, and local Police, decided not to interrupt the game or announce knowledge of the threat.

Instead, they canvassed portions of Comerica Park (especially on-site parking for vendors and employees ) with a bomb-sniffing dog. Apparently because the intelligence related to the bomb-threat pointed there.

That is, to my memory, the last time I've heard of a terrorist threat related to baseball.

With respect to the metal-detectors:
1. Did the DHS and the leadership of the MLB Leagues care to distinguish between the security around a Marathon and security around a baseball stadium?

There are significant differences, including the fact that spectators at the Marathon have likely not purchased tickets to watch the event, and likely haven't passed through an entry-gate.

2. If the metal-detectors don't ping on keyrings, then what will they ping on?*

My experiences with Stadium/BallPark security is that they are more likely to keep people from bringing their own food in, than to keep people from bringing weapons in.


Anyway, this looks like CYA security.

Or the salesman for the metal-detectors making himself a lot of money.

flop_houseApril 15, 2015 12:26 PM

Frank Ch. Eigler,

By "terrorizing ourselves" I think he means it's a needless escalation of fear. As at least one other comment mentions escalating fear makes a far more compliant electorate.

This is the sport thinking about nothing beyond the next season. Essentially lawyers and finance running the sport. That never ends well. Buh Bye!!

albertApril 15, 2015 12:30 PM

@Jeb
"...sweep the streets with hand brooms or pick up roadside litter...." That's useful, productive labor, as opposed to...
.
@Steve
"...Without worst-case thinking we wouldn't have air bags or seat belts in automobiles...". Read about Colonel John Stapp, USAF flight surgeon, who actively campaigned for seat belts in autos. "...Sometimes not thinking about the worst-case ends in disaster: consider Fukushima or the flooding of New Orleans...". In both cases, the worst case scenarios were well known; they just didn't want to spend the money.
.
@Bardi
Tsk Tsk "...putting beer in non-magnetic containers..." Giving away a million dollar idea is not the American Way.
.
@marcus
"...I know at least one Security Guy who will not permit his family to attend just these types of mass sporting events, even in a town which worships same...."
And every person I met wouldn't allow his family to eat any foods processed in his workplace.
@Clive
"...weasily contracts with subcontractors....", and carefully studied by their insurers. It's complicated. Ford found it cheaper to pay off ('settle') lawsuits, than than to fix known defects in their Bronco SUVs. There was an old joke about them being just like the horse, rolling around in the grass, and throwing the rider. The 'rubber ball' metaphor was popular as well.
.
.
@Everyone
I don't see why there's so much fuss about 'security'. Does anyone really think that there's ANY accountability in our security apparatus? Is that TSA dude/dudette gonna be punished for missing a gun at a check point? Who took the fall for 911?
.
Does anyone think that CYA is the primary reason for 'enhanced security systems? Guys, their asses are already covered. What's the worst that can happen to the Director of DHS if the scat hits the fan? He might have to resign?
.
Since 'security services' success rates are secret, how can anyone justify their budgets? I hate to bring up the money factor (only to extent that folks are sick of hearing about it), but the sports venue security issue is really about money, and not only illicit beer. Our litigious society is part of the problem. Is the sports venue responsible for a nutter freaking out and hurting folks? No. Are the police? No. Once you institute 'security', you are essentially accepting responsibility. You don't like that 'sue me' target painted on your back, so you make 'security' more and more draconian (e.g., TSA) Let's submit sports fans (a rowdy bunch anyway) to psychological screening! Go ahead and laugh, while the tech creeps up on you. It may be useless, but it's coming anyway.
.
Social devolution. A little OT, but it is the taproot of contemporary society.
.
I gotta go...
...

65535April 15, 2015 12:38 PM

@ Marcus
"I know at least one Security Guy who will not permit his family to attend just these types of mass sporting events, even in a town which worships same. They're too juicy a target in his estimation and too indefensible (thus, CYA theater)."

Good point!

I doubt that the sight of Metal Detectors and TSA style “pat down” lackeys will increase foot traffic in stadiums - nor safety. I would guess it would do the opposite. People will stay home and watch the sporting event on TV or the internet in the comfort of their abode.

If these Metal Detectors decrease foot traffic stadiums in the long run [including ticket revenue and snack revenue], it will be a case of harming the people the government was supposed to protect.

That is just great /

Dave XApril 15, 2015 1:17 PM

@ "For that matter, a bomb exploded at a crowded checkpoint would be no less deadly than one exploded in the stands"

NOT seeing this happen is evidence against there being any of this sort of threat worth worrying about. In places where there are non-imaginary terrorists, they do take advantage of this soft underbelly of the checkpoints.

The wasted efforts we spend on our checkpoints don't make things even 1% safer.

Gerard van VoorenApril 15, 2015 1:21 PM

Do this kind of security measures work? People are clever and creative so I am skeptical. And as we have seen recently with the Germanwings air crash the measures can also backfire.

However I am thinking that the main purpose of security theater is self-reminding (in other words: advertising). Each time we see the security theater in action we are reminded again about terror. Like each time we see a big M or a star on top of a pole we know it is McDonalds or Mercedes. If repeated long enough people are gonna think it is necessary. Even worse, it could also change the voting behavior.

Security theater looks, smells and feels like a racket. A racket that needs a massive engine to keep it running. That engine runs on fear and to keep the fear alive it has to be fed with advertisement (mostly lies). The engine however is poorly designed and generates toxic exhaust gases. And the racket is being paid by you and me.

MarcusApril 15, 2015 1:23 PM

@65535
Have to ask- are the principals in MLB invested in security hardware and companies which might experience a boom in value should the market be expanded? Always have to ask that. Of course, if it become ubiquitous, then the answer will always be a decidedly uninformative "yes"....

@albert
re unaccountability". A general but not infallible rule in power politics is When Bad Things Happen, the King and his thanes stick together. If they start turning on each other and pointing fingers then they all lose because they're sewing the seeds of future distrust amongst their own kind.

(Thus: "you're doin' a helluva job, Brownie !)"

This is ancient knowledge and has its rationale in what we now call game theory. But it goes way back. Past a certain level of intimacy, you don't turn on your cohorts.

People who have spent their lives on campaigns to acquire authority and power all know this implicitly and have passed many such "no accountability" tests on their way up, or have been flunked out entirely.

Anyway it bears saying that meaningful and final accountability goes only to the a**hole terrorists, and their actions are pretty unpredictable, by design. There is a truthful element to anyone who pleads "we just didn't see it coming".

I should add I am not making a statement there about any particular historical event here. I felt like the still-classified testimony before the 9-11 Commission of Sibel Edmonds (that, and other data points) basically shot Condaleeza Rice's claim that the warnings were "non-specific and merely historical" all to hell. In fact, it showed her claim and all the rest of that Administration's similar claims to be ass covering lies. They were clearly negligent in their performance the most basic function of the Executive.

I am still hopeful that that whole time will get a second review and not just by historians but by Congress. Obama is not going to go there, but that doesn't mean future generations will be as disinterested, especially since concerns about terrorism will continue to define society's shape and direction.

People aren't going to forget 9-11 and people without connections to Cheney et. al. will come to control Congress just as people without connections to Kissenger came to power. Time is not on that administration's side.

BooApril 15, 2015 2:13 PM

Just Because You’re Smart, Doesn’t Mean You’re Not Stupid
http://isme.tamu.edu/JSCOPE00/Pollock00.html
Just because you're secure, doesn't mean you're not safe.
The Johari window:

a. what you know you know

b. what you know you don’t know

c. what you don’t know you know

d. what you don’t know you don’t know

You aren't who you are: society/group effects: (paraphrasing Jung) when a group of people put their heads together you get one big fathead.

Any progress in civilization all but wrecks society.

BooApril 15, 2015 2:27 PM

Cops have killed more Americans than terrorist since 2000.

Drug war. They're going to kill lots more.

"There's nothing wrong with killing people, just so the right people get killed." Dirty Harry

BooApril 15, 2015 2:31 PM

Theater Metadata
www.imdb.com/title/tt1034331/quotes
Internet Movie Database
Righteous Kill (2008) ... ass infielder you don't get to cheat and drop the ball just because you caught a break. ... Dr. Prosky: How do you feel when You've fired your weapon? Turk: Dirty Harry said there's nothing wrong with a little shooting, as long as the ... Dr. Prosky: And when the wrong people get shot? ... I said 'Right.

BooApril 15, 2015 2:56 PM

Dr. Prosky: How do you feel when You've fired your weapon?

Turk: Dirty Harry said there's nothing wrong with a little shooting, as long as the right people get shot.

Dr. Prosky: And when the wrong people get shot?

Turk: It sucks... but I'd rather be in than out.

You can stay in and watch sports channels because it's a war zone out there. The game is in the city and the city is financial wreck. You could end up in the crossfire. The stadium is safe if you can get there and back alive.

Turk: My name is David Fisk, detective first grade. I've been a cop in the NYPD for over thirty years, in that time I've killed 14 people.

Looking at NYC that's a low number. The place is crawling with criminals, gangs of criminals and dope. Now the media is comparing cops with terrorists? The have the NSA nailed as being the KGB. Educated idiots.

DanielApril 15, 2015 3:31 PM

Excellent article Bruce. What I have been meditating on is where this self terror comes from: from an essential aloneness or an essential boredom. For an excellent fictional treatment of the way that societies and individuals terrorize themselves I suggest reading Waiting for the Barbarians by JM Coetzee. There are a lot of similarities between what is happening in America now and what happened in South Africa under apartheid.

@Frank Ch.

We are terrorising ourselves. The inconvienence is simply a symptom, not the cause.

Andrew WallaceApril 15, 2015 3:55 PM

As a deterrent it is making people safe by making criminals and terrorists think twice. The same as TSA agents at the airport you are so critical of.

Andrew

Anonymous CowardApril 15, 2015 4:34 PM

When someone says (like MLB) that they have "enhanced security", you should ask them

* In what way was it inadequate before?
If they can't answer, then it's all theatre.

if they do answer, then
* How does this solve the "inadequacy" described above.

If they can't answer, it's all theatre.

-- AC

man behind the curtainApril 15, 2015 4:51 PM

I've always figured the airport shoe rigmarole wasn't about shoe bombs, but about distracting and destabilizing people, exacerbating any nervousness for remote observers. Likewise metal detectors--slow people down and occupy their attention, while...

Well, we know crowded sporting events are where all the latest face recognition and other tech is tried out.

Alan KaminskyApril 15, 2015 6:17 PM

First they put metal detectors in airports, but I didn't care, I just stopped flying. (Why would I want to put up with cramped seats and lousy service, anyway?)

Then they put metal detectors at sports stadium entrances, but I didn't care, I just stopped going to ball games. (Actually, I never did go to ball games. Pointless.)

Then they put metal detectors at mall entrances, but I didn't care, I just stopped going to malls. (I can order anything on the Internet and have it delivered to my house.)

Then they put metal detectors at grocery store entrances, but I didn't care, I just stopped going to grocery stores. (I can order groceries over the Internet too.)

Then they put metal detectors at the entrances to my house, but I didn't care, I just stopped going out altogether. (I can phone, email, text, surf, order stuff, play music, stream movies, get takeout, telecommute, and do everything else in my life on the Internet.)

With all those metal detectors around, no way are the terrorists going to get me.

Have a nice day.

BrammerApril 15, 2015 6:29 PM

Meanwhile, a guy lands a frickin gyrocopter on the lawn of the capitol. Why was he not shot down??

mishehuApril 15, 2015 7:03 PM

The cynical side of me says that this is all just convenient justification for the clubs to protect their revenue streams... as if going to a professional major league sports event didn't require a small fortune already...

BuckApril 15, 2015 7:13 PM

Yes, this is great! If there's anything Americans care about more than sexting, it's their sports games... Now all that's needed to defeat terrorism paranoia is several bus-loads of children and veterans with metal surgical plates to show up early with tickets. Once the game-day experience is ruined for a few hundred thousand fans, they will all unite and demand an end to this frivolous 'security' spending! That is, if the metal detectors actually even work...

Clive RobinsonApril 15, 2015 8:02 PM

@ Andrew Wallace,

I do not know why Bruce has a problem with deterrence measures.

Most people who think about it for a while realise that "deterrence measures" are beyond a certain point a waste of resources. The problem is that "the point" can only be found to be "insufficient" not "sufficient".

It's the same as "Defence Appropriations" you only know when you have not spent enough when you get attacked.

But the history of both shows that the spend required is bassed on two "unknowns" neither of which can be turned into "knowns" only "suspicions",

1, How what you view as a potential attacker sees you as a threat/target, in a changing environment of other threats/targets.
2, Why what you view as a potential attacker has invested in armaments etc is it for external Defence / Offense, internal Defence / Offense, grandstanding, economics, poor political oversight, or political pork/backhanders etc etc.

The result of this is generaly to undervalue your capabilities and overvalue the capabilities of what you view as a potential attacker.

The consiquence of this is most often either a boom to bust cost cycle or steadily increasing cost. Seldom is there actually an underspend, when things go wrong it's because the investment was for the wrong threat, caused by the above two unknowns.

There is also a secondary issue, of having made the investment what do you do with it...

In the modern age where many armaments are multiple use there is considerable preasure to re-coup costs in one way or another, even if it's only on paper.

It's the reason we see "mission creep" in the activities of the DEA / NRO / NSA / TSA and the various law enforcment agencies.

Generally the only people promoting what you describe as "Deterrence Measures" are those with vested interests for financial gain, you can see this with the "Scare the scat out of them" stories used in "home security" literature and salesman spiel, to meet the sales targets. There is little or no evidence that visable alarm systems / CCTV etc reduces your chance of being burgled, in fact there is some evidence that it is more likely to make you a target. Also other less costly investment such as sensible external lighting, leaving a radio on and not spending money on making your house look posh / better than others around, and being carefull what and how you put rubbish out, has repeatedly been shown to work better at reducing you risk of a break in.

Clive RobinsonApril 15, 2015 8:19 PM

@ Alan Kaminsky,

... Then they put metal detectors at the entrances to my house, but I didn't care, I just stopped going out altogether.

Nice rework of "First they came for the jews.... then they came for me".

Only in your version you become a Prisoner of your own free will devoid of social contact and experience, prey to whatever "They" chose to feed you to twist what you see as reality...

What more could "They" wish for, as in your version you have made your own panoptican at your own expense ;-)

Brush it up a little and use it as a "movie plot" entry :-D

MarcusApril 15, 2015 8:37 PM

@Andrew Wallace

You're over generalizing Bruce's point IMO. He's not saying deterrence is always a waste of time. He's saying each application of deterrent measures ought to be weighed carefully and rationally with respect to cost and benefit. In fact, that's exactly what he said. It only makes sense.

You can spend money and worse, attention, on new ways to protect yourself until you have none of either left to spend. Then what?

What is really needed is for people to join in the conversation. Some risk is always there. At some point, unfortunately, a terrorist will score a big one. That is not my opinion, that is the opinion of everyone in DHS. It's just a matter of time. They will get through because the circumference to defend is just too vast and vulnerable.

The thing we can do is come to terms with that fact and decide, a priori, that it's not going to change the way we live, play work or interact with each other.

Yes people will tragically die but if we don't eat our civil society alive as a result, the terrorists have won exactly nothing but a future bullet to the eye.

This is a point of ongoing research for me (and subject matter experts, please chime in!) but it seems like terrorists don't have the capacity to kill millions of even tens of thousands. WMD are very difficult to either create or disperse and as far as I have been able to understand, they will go on being so for the foreseeable future. 9-11 was their best to date and while tens of thousands were endangered, most of those escaped.

Without a credible WMD, the casualty rate from terrorism will continue to be somewhere below that of lightning. For the record, I go inside during thunderstorms, so it's not that I am heedless of even low probability danger.

Take away points:

1) terrorists lack a credible story about how they're going to kill millions or even thousands of Americans at will or on an random, ongoing basis. It's a technical hurtle they can't overcome.

2) OTOH, one of their number WILL get through sooner or later, unfortunately.

Given that as the not-likely-to-change underlying reality, what should we do?

1) Spend big on basic science. That is the big weapon we have to defend ourselves here. I know someone working on low cost, low profile very sensitive nuclear particle detection research. This is how we stay safe going forward. That is how we win. So three cheers for DoD basic science grants!

2) When the worst does materialize, refuse to be cowed and especially to surrender the American way of life, liberty and freedom. This is the biggest thing. Be psychologically prepared to stand fast in the face of tragedy. If we don't budge, if we don't disassemble our democracy, then we win and they lose. It's just as simple as that.

Clive RobinsonApril 15, 2015 8:54 PM

@ Brammer,

Meanwhile, a guy lands a frickin gyrocopter on the lawn of the capitol. Why was he not shot down??

Short answer is "They never do"...

The long answer is that nobody has used light aircraft / autogyros / helicopters etc as a serious attack vector in the US (or most other places I can think of).

Further what do you shoot it down with... most sholder launch missiles are not going to do the job... And even if they do you have to consider what the debris is going to do... Also you have to consider that there is the "surprise element" in that in built up areas a low flying light aircraft is not easy to track from the ground thus it's on you before you can deploy, aquire and fire. Further light aircraft can fly well below a jet fighters stall speed and are also way way more agile and the weapons on jet fighters are not the sort of thing you want to be firing towards buildings roads shopping malls etc etc.

Finally consider how little damage a light aircraft can do by it's self, it's to light and fragile and can not carry much of a payload, thus if you fly it at a business style building it's going to crumple and fall apart rather than penetrate through a wall. And even if it's got a hundred pounds of high explosive, it's not going to be constrained or have shrapnel effect casing and is in all probability not going to explode, and if it does it's unlikely to be in an effective place. Thus all things considered, a light aircraft is likely to cause less damage if you don't shoot it down than if you try to or even succeed...

CelosApril 15, 2015 9:22 PM

There is also another aspect to this whole security theater issue: It decreases efficiency. Once society drops below a certain level of efficiency, it collapses. Now, the US is still some way form that point, but the needed import of labor and the massive extension of the security apparatus are clear warning signs. Unlike "terrorism", this is an existential threat.

kingsnakeApril 15, 2015 10:34 PM

Getting the ol' alien anal probe at the airport is unavoidable if one wants to do business, or visit family, more than a day's drive away. Going to ball parks is purely optional, and the more hassle it becomes the less likely people are to go. Especially this person. Thankfully, I can report than I was not probed at Spring Training this year. (And the game I attended was in Maryvale, which is one of Phoenix's iffier neighborhoods ...)

65535April 15, 2015 10:54 PM

@ Marcus

As you have indicated MLB is probably heavily in vested in said companies making these medal detectors, wands and so on [Hiding behind several “holding companies” or “investment partnerships”].

I would not be surprised it there was some “tax credit” for metal detectors and the like. There is probably some behind the scenes political tax money pipeline to MLB in one form or another.

[Next]

I agree with Bruce S. It is “Security Theater” with little to no added security.

Huge Stadiums require constant maintenance with hundreds of workers in and out each day. There is plenty of ways to plant a bomb or an auto-rifle before a game.

I would guess there are many on this board to could easily show ways to plant explosives, flammable type bombs, and guns and so on in a huge stadium to be used during a game.

There are probably ways of weakening or loosening bleachers for collapse. There are probably ways of causing electrocution of individuals in metal framed seats. There are probably ways of flying large drones or large private aircraft into stadiums and on and on.

This thread could be stretched out with a million ways of causing destruction in any large stadium if enough imagination is used.

This is all “Security Theater” with a nasty stench of insider money making hanging in the air.


WaelApril 15, 2015 11:33 PM

So what's the threat this mechanism is supposed to mitigate, shouldn't they make it clear?[1]
Perhaps "security" is a blanket used as a cover to make money... If it were upto me, I would propose we use different technology: Use a slide with superconductive coils that detect metals when they move through. Tell customers you need to enter the stadium by sliding on this thing, it's fun too! There will be two branches in the middle of the slide to take. People with no metals on them get delivered to their seats, and the "bad people" take this alternate branch of the slide. I can order this branch from Alibaba, too! [2]

We no longer need the terrorists. We're now so good at terrorizing ourselves

Boogie boogie...

[1] Reminds my of a joke: One day, a doctor was walking downtown and saw a homeless person shooting heroin with a dirty needle. The doctor felt bad for the guy and told him: You know, you can catch AIDS from this dirty needle! The homeless person told him: No worries Doc. ! I am wearing a condom!

[2] Code reuse from this post

jdgaltApril 15, 2015 11:34 PM

Just as airlines encouraged the government to require ID checks of passengers for a self-serving reason (to prevent resale of tickets, and allow them to gouge anyone who wants to buy one less than two weeks in advance), "security" screenings at stadiums are really about preventing fans from bringing in their own food or drinks. (To some extent they're also about preventing fans from bringing in noisemakers or signs that promote messages they disagree with, such as those complaining about bad officiating.)

Screw 'em. I'll just watch the game at my local bar & grill.

ChinmayApril 16, 2015 12:17 AM

"We no longer need the terrorists. We're now so good at terrorizing ourselves."

The Truth has been spoken!

bcsApril 16, 2015 12:18 AM

It seems part (if not all) of the problem is that the people in charge are more afraid of the consequences of an incident to their job and career than to the people it could maim and kill.

Maybe they need to be convinced that pointing at something useless after the fact will get a big "so what?". Maybe what's needed is to actually make that true.

BooApril 16, 2015 12:23 AM

NORAD does great at tracking Santa. Have all the security people wear Santa suits. Now the challenge is to stop the public from acting public. The only safe place is Atlantis. We need to leave the land we love to build a new nation at sea. We can be the pioneering sublic and farm the oceans. It's a 2/3's solution. We can start a secret alphabet and learn to forget.

Andrew WallaceApril 16, 2015 1:52 AM

We have to target everyone because we don't know who all the criminals and terrorists are especially a lone wolf. We can take an intelligence-led approach but that only extends so far. At the sports stadiums, the detectors and other measures can be used to enforce general policy such as no flares or alcohol and not to do with bombs, guns and blades per se. Random checks on everyone keeps the bad guys guessing. If you are a normal member of the public you shouldn't let security measures worry or panic you. If it does you can speak to a doctor after the phobia and what might be causing it.

Wesley ParishApril 16, 2015 4:08 AM

Nah, they should be training the security guards to keep an eye out for Devil Bunnies ... or Biggus Dickus ...

Meanwhile nobody's got any clues on what to do if the pitcher pitches a hand-grenade to the batter and it lands in the bleachers? Or for the occasions - tragic but true - when the card-carrying member of the NRA who's batting, sticks the trigger guard and the magazine onto the Uzi he's artfully disguised as a bat and takes out everybody on the field then charges the stands screaming, "Remember the Alamo!" And nobody's considered the baseball fan who takes a baseball bat in and then sneaks up on the security guards and clubs them down for a quick supper ... hell, once you've remembered that cotton clothes can be drenched with nitric acid to make a guncotton, you'd enhance security by requiring people to take their all their clothes off and enjoy the game without the impedimenta of clothing, which should be a real hit for outdoor ice hockey matches ...

AnuraApril 16, 2015 5:40 AM

Seems like bringing a bomb into the stadium would be far less effective than driving a truck filled with explosives next to the stadium and detonating it. If they were concerned about security, they should probably not have a parking lot next to the stadium.

Clive RobinsonApril 16, 2015 6:39 AM

@ Andrew Wallace,

If you are a normal member of the public you shouldn't let security measures worry or panic you. If it does you can speak to a doctor after the phobia and what might be causing it

I really can not believe you were daft enough to post that.

Has nobody ever told you that "blaiming the victim" is just so wrong it's compleatly unacceptable in a civil society?

There is absolutly nothing wrong with people disliking or loathing those who set up or take part in intrusive surveillance, especially when it's known to be done incompently crassly, and thus serve no purpose other than to make the lives of ordinary law abiding citizens difficult to the point of considering it a form of mental torture. To suggest that those law abiding citizens who loath and detest their hard earned civil rights being trampled upon have something wrong with them mentally is indicative that your own mental state is questionable.

You realy have blown any credibility you might have had.

I can only hope that your views are not indicative of your employer as well.

MeeroApril 16, 2015 8:17 AM

Wow, this post is defeatist. Bruce, do you still believe that there will be substantive changes to reign in mass spying eventually?

MeeroApril 16, 2015 8:27 AM

@Andrew Wallace

I am willing to accept some risk in life if it means living in a world without constant reminders that some extremists hijacked several planes 14 years ago and killed several thousand people.

I am not scared of lone wolf threats as the damage they would reasonably cause isn't large enough for me to want to allow a degradation to my quality of life.

I suggest you see a therapist about your compulsion to want everything monitored so you can feel safe. It's not healthy and you're hurting the people around you in the process.

GunstickApril 16, 2015 8:57 AM

You say "They imagine vague threats, and come up with correspondingly vague security measures intended to address them"
I would rather say that they try to find a security solution, and then come up with a situation where to apply it.
So they got those metal detectors, and find that it's a nice idea to dump them into a stadium.

MarcusApril 16, 2015 10:09 AM

@Clive Roberstson

The long answer is that nobody has used light aircraft / autogyros / helicopters etc as a serious attack vector in the US (or most other places I can think of).

"They" aren't happy about the existence of this video and it periodically gets pulled, so keep trying, but some guy in Russia outfits a quadcopter with a 50 mil and , uh, shows just what that baby can do....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNPJMk2fgJU

Gulp....

MarcusApril 16, 2015 11:06 AM

@Andrew Wallace

We have to target everyone because we don't know who all the criminals and terrorists are especially a lone wolf.

OK so you've surfaced the main error in your thinking. This is EXACTLY and EXPRESSLY what the Constitution forbids. You can't have general warrants in effect against everyone all the time, in fact, you can't have mass warrants of any kind.

The Constitution is why we don't live in a police state, where all laws are arranged for the ease and convenience of the police. This is why police can't just randomly come into your home and search it for no particular reason.

No-one in power in Congress, the judiciary or the Executive can legally create, enforce or otherwise inflict an unconstitutional law upon citizens of the nation- period, full stop, no special exceptions. That is the power of the Constitution. It is the supreme law of the land.

This is civics 101, but if we did allow that, then the population would never be free to organize and talk against those in power because those in power would absolutely use this vast unaccountable power to crush dissenters.

The Founders saw this clearly because they lived under such a system wih King George.

If we did allow those in people that kind of power, in full Cheney style, their reasoning would go like this-

FACT: I know how things have to be to keep us safe.
FACT: Those opposing me are interfering with me keeping us safe.
THEREFORE: Those opposing me must be crushed using all means, just like the terrorists.


Individualized, particular suspicion is a bed rock of the Constitution. IF ou want to enact the above Cheney-esque logic on the nation, you first have to get them to agree to it, or you're just another despot mouthing the mepty words all despots mouth.

What do you THINK Hitler said when he took to himself that kind of power in Germany? "I'm doing it and too bad if you don't like it?".


No, that sentiment came later. What he said was- "what a great international menace we face, I need this power to keep us safe and free!".

That is EXACTLY what he said.

Despots ALWAYS say this and he was no exception. It's not like Germany didn't have a functioning elected government. That was the barrier to overcome for Hitler.

If you truly believe that we can no longer afford the protections of the Billof Rights, then state your case.

Maybe the Constitution has outlived its useful life. That is a possible truth, but it needs to be proved and proved to the satisfaction of the 2/3 of the majorities in the States.

Most people, if engaged in a discussion something like- "should we do away with the Constitution to keep us safe from Mad Mall bombers (or whatever)?" -would say, oh hell no, that's weak and unAmerican.

This is my sense of things- you could not call a Constitutional Convention and you could not get a majority to agree to discard the Bill of Rights.

Refusing to stay within the law to protect society is a kind of dismantling of our nation from within.

Even laws passed with good intentions get distorted and need to be continually revisited.

Example: the Patriot Act. The Senator who authored it has repeatedly and vehemently gone on record as saying he didn't mean to authorize the govt. to do what they're doing.

But there's nothing to say that HE was going to be deciding on how it's "interpreted" to use a word very very loosely.

Section 215 of the Patriot Act was expressly about terrorism - now they use it for common criminals.

So he built the thing with one kind of vision in mind and whaddya know, people who came after him used it for something completely different.

Where's the terrorism in pot smuggling? Where's the terrorism in copyright violation? Are you saying these things are a secret money-funnel for al Queda? Really?

Who said we should permit mass surveillance and recording of everything everyone does to counter the machinations of common criminal scum?

Answer- no one. They just did it, and the FISA court rubber stamped it. That's a broken system that needs attending to.

You can't break the law to uphold the law. That really IS a slippery slope and huge enormous parts of our jurisprudence exist to just to prevent it. If you do break the aw to uphold the law, whatever your intentions, you're paving the ground for purely sinister future despots. You're doing that by cementing "flexible" norms and values which they will find quite flexible to their purpose indeed.

Respect for the law is what holds this nation together. Nothing else.

kingsnakeApril 16, 2015 11:10 AM

p.s. What's to prevent a mad dirigible pilot from flying his airborne Claymore over the stadium?

@Marcus: 100% agree

Mark M.April 16, 2015 1:53 PM

@kingsnake - Goodyear blimp - If Black Sunday is correct, an intrepid Mossad agent.

BooApril 16, 2015 1:57 PM

Farnsworth: Ah, here we are: Monument Beach!

[Fry gazes at the beach. People climb the Great Sphinx of Giza and alongside it is St. Peter's Tower, the White House, Randy's Donuts, many moai of Easter Island, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Mount Rushmore.]

Fry: Wait, Mount Rushmore and the Leaning Tower of Pisa? I didn't know they were both in New York!

[Leela unpacks some things from the boot.]

Leela: They are now. In the 2600's, New Yorkers elected a super-villain governor, and he stole most of the world's monuments.

Bender: Truly a great man. Look at him up there.

[He looks up at the super-villain and whistles. The governor's head has been carved into the mountain next to the other presidents' heads.]
[Scene: Monument Beach. Leela lies on a sunbed and picks up a tube of Tanning Butter from the arm. She squeezes some onto her legs and hums as she rubs it in. Zoidberg picks up a chunk of real butter and rubs it across his head and groans. Hermes walks across in front of Zoidberg, Amy and Leela with a metal detector. It beeps rapidly.]

Hermes: Aha! [He puts the metal detector down and digs in the sand.] Found you!

[Bender's head pops up from the sand.]

Bender: OK, now you go hide. [Hermes puts the trowel down and hands Bender the metal detector and runs off. Bender throws the metal detector away and chuckles.] Nice knowin' you.
http://theinfosphere.org/Transcript:When_Aliens_Attack

There's a lobster on the loose. Cover yourselves with hot butter and make noises.

BooApril 16, 2015 2:03 PM

Etiquette refers to conventional forms and usages: the rules of etiquette. Decorum suggests dignity and a sense of what is becoming or appropriate for a person of good breeding: a fine sense of decorum.

My Navy etiquette book from Annapolis says carry lemons just in case. Fill them with ammonia.

RyanApril 16, 2015 3:46 PM

I agree that this is not useful for thwarting an attack by a psychopath, however there are two potential key benefits. The first is that it may put the attendees at greater ease and comfort while at the event. There is evidence to support this.

The second is that, many studies have shown that people are about 50% less likely to bring a weapon to a location when they know ahead of time that there will be metal detectors. One such study can be found in the Journal of School Health, Volume 81, Issue 2, pages 100–106, February 2011.

So again, psychopath, not averted, but is certainly isn't entirely a charade.

American fascismApril 16, 2015 4:06 PM

George Carlin observed that football is an analog for combat since both are battles for territory.

Linking sports teams to geographic areas cultivates regional patriotism. Perhaps this is to keep the nation in a state of psychological readiness for war mobilization.

Things I wonder about:

What is the psychological meaning of security checkpoints at sporting events?

How do people process the experience of going to a baseball game during REM sleep?

Is this a new sort of binary propaganda where the pieces are assembled after the fact?

Are Americans being conditioned for a police state?

CallMeLateForSupperApril 16, 2015 4:34 PM

What next, NFL stadiums? Soccer? Why not similarly burden all other large gatherings, such as concerts. Probably DHS is far from finished with this silliness; they're phasing it in slowly so as not to induce panic... and bad press.

Ijust added MLB to my "So Glad I Don't..." list.

BooApril 16, 2015 5:01 PM

"The lessons of the fight for Grozny are several and sobering for anyone who contemplates using troops in an urban environment. While some of the lessons learned by Russian and Chechen combatants are peculiar to that region, others have wider applicability. No army wants to engage in urban combat, but increasing urbanization and the danger of strikes from high-precision weapons may well force the fight into the city, where the defender has all the advantages."
http://fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/documents/battle.htm

The stadium is in the city, so the defenders have all the advantages. Play ball!

kingsnakeApril 16, 2015 6:26 PM

@CallMeLateForSupper

I'd be surprised if the No Fun League were not going Full Fear Factor, since they had the electronic turks out for this year's Stupor Bowl. I know this, because the local rag here in Phoenix, the Arizona Repugnant -- I mean "Republic" -- had an article about the "security", as if it was a good thing. Not sure how it prevents assault by liquored up ex 3rd-string high school jocks ...

MarcusApril 16, 2015 7:48 PM

@American fascism

re: football and regional identification.

Turn it around; it's not *them* doing it to *us* in some sneaky manner, like a puppet master. It's what we are, territorial animals, expressing itself in our culture.

Regional battles *make sense* to people. They get it without having to be indoctrinated.

This is who are just genetically. This is what we are born to by dint of being human. Humans always break into groups and make war on other humans just ...because (because we evolved to compete for limited resources we needed to stay alive). Read some Konrad Lorentz or some Dawkins or other ethologists or sociobiologists. It's not just another possible explanation, another scientific theory, a POV. The evidence is detailed, predictive, heaped up to the ceiling and completely overwhelming.

Your beef is with your genes. It just is.

Correctly defining the problem is more than half of finding a solution.

Beer HatApril 16, 2015 9:30 PM

@ Marcus, it's not regional. The same conditioning makes people take sides in the same region like Dook v. UNC. And the conditioning has nothing to do with your genes, which are programmed for fight or flight. MLB or football is neither fight nor flight. It's passively sitting on your ass with your tongue hanging out, cheering on people who don't give a shit about you. That's good training for war and for politics: expending emotional energy in pointless ritual.

The militarism and dimbulb jingoism of US professional sports is unique in the world. Africans choose to be gunners with none of the same statist indoctrination. Anglo Kiwis proudly adopt a wholly different culture with their haka. The Work to Ride kids blast through class barriers to dominate polo like they dominate hoops.

US professional sport is shit because the USA is shit. There's nothing natural about it.

Michael And Ingrid HerouxApril 16, 2015 10:26 PM

Makes me wonder if they're preparing for the next false flag. They will say, "LOOK, WE WERE DOING ALL WE COULD. It's about time for another one, 911 is wearing off. The sheeple need another reminder to be scared again. Thanks

BooApril 16, 2015 10:29 PM

Bring in the clowns!
"Technical knowhow can only get you so far, though. At a certain point, you just have to throw your hands up and hope for the best. That's where the shamans come in."
http://gizmodo.com/how-sochi-is-making-it-snow-in-a-subtropical-resort-1516807323

Maybe they can change wine into water and make snow with it. The Cold War goes on and on. The money is gone, the economy is failed and the three ring circus of steel has left town. Renaming rights? Last Resort!

BooApril 16, 2015 10:40 PM

"They will be prepared for it. They had good early snow... I reckon Sochi will get through with no problems."

Balfour continued: "The toilet flushes muddy water, there is no hot water, the shower floor is covered in dirt and mud, there was piss all over the toilet, the water is undrinkable (it's brown), it's even sketchy to brush your teeth with it and the idea of having internet in this place is a joke." "
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/russia-winter-olympics-sochi-olympics-games-conditions-appalling-1433623

US installing the Ring of Magnets. In 6 months they'll have 100K nail clippers and pocket knives. Build ski resorts in Florida! Host the winter games!

American fascismApril 16, 2015 10:58 PM

@Marcus

> Your beef is with your genes.

Man has two modes of survival, as animals or as rational animals.

In other words, by the rule of the jungle or by the rule of law.

Part of our genetic heritage is that we have the faculty of reason which enables us to produce the values we need to survive instead of just foraging from the wild.

And we can specialize in making the things we do best, and exchange the product of our labors with others. There is a positive gain in efficiency in working this way.

So there is a harmony of interests between rational men.

The alternative you described applies to the dog eat dog mode of existence of man as animal, without the rational part.

zApril 17, 2015 12:51 AM

Security checkpoints at stadiums just create a huge target outside them. Last time I was at an NFL game there was a crowd of several hundred densely packed people standing in line waiting to go through security, right next to a parking lot and spilling over into it. All it would have taken is one VBIED and we'd have been toast. It was completely idiotic.

GreenSquirrelApril 17, 2015 7:31 AM

Andrew Wallace • April 15, 2015 3:55 PM As a deterrent it is making people safe by making criminals and terrorists think twice. The same as TSA agents at the airport you are so critical of.

Andrew Wallace • April 15, 2015 4:42 PM
I do not know why Bruce has a problem with deterrence measures.

Andrew Wallace • April 15, 2015 7:14 PM
Buy a dog that barks and the likelihood you won't get burgled.

Andrew Wallace • April 16, 2015 1:52 AM
We have to target everyone because we don't know who all the criminals and terrorists are especially a lone wolf. We can take an intelligence-led approach but that only extends so far. At the sports stadiums, the detectors and other measures can be used to enforce general policy such as no flares or alcohol and not to do with bombs, guns and blades per se. Random checks on everyone keeps the bad guys guessing. If you are a normal member of the public you shouldn't let security measures worry or panic you. If it does you can speak to a doctor after the phobia and what might be causing it.

Trolling much? Is twitter that quiet you felt the need to stir things up a bit?

Some key points (and given that you tweet about physical security and resilience you should know better):

1) These measures do not make terrorists "think twice" - they provide an opportunity for attack that real terrorists (Iraq for example) will take advantage of in a heartbeat.

2) Bruce doest not appear to have any issue with deterrence.

3) I'd rather have proper security measures than a barking dog to prevent burglary. This is weird advice.

4) SO much wrong there its hard to know where to start. Seriously. Change jobs.

MarcusApril 17, 2015 9:43 AM

@American Fascism

Man has two modes of survival, as animals or as rational animals.

In other words, by the rule of the jungle or by the rule of law.

Part of our genetic heritage is that we have the faculty of reason which enables us to produce the values we need to survive instead of just foraging from the wild.

This is a philosophical statement, a summation of some kind. It's not that I can't make sense of your words or get the idea of what you're saying, sure, people are capable of a level of abstraction, self-direction and action based on ideas that "lower animals" aren't. Got it.

But no one said otherwise least of all me. I said that the entire *notion* of us / vs. them is an inherent part of the human mind and that is the reason people don't need to have things like the logic of football teams explained to them. We form teams and make war because our brains come pre-wired to have all that make sense. I am not saying we are marionettes, I am saying we are predisposed- very very heavily.



And we can specialize in making the things we do best, and exchange the product of our labors with others. There is a positive gain in efficiency in working this way.

So there is a harmony of interests between rational men.

Sometimes that's true, sometimes we (historical we.. societies) just take each other's stuff and too bad.

But the idea that because man can think and be guided by reason and is in that sense a "rational animal", it follows that man does what is rational, in his real or even perceived best interests is just known to be wrong.

It's a philosophical notion left over from the 19th century and before. Marxism and Adam Smith, Rousseau etc. all shared an idea of humans as purely or mainly rational.


The alternative you described applies to the dog eat dog mode of existence of man as animal, without the rational part.

I don't know why you're applying this to me. That is the very last thing I would want and it in no way follows as a consequence of accurately describing human motivations and biases, especially as those motivations and biases are revealed through doing science, unless you have some other way of getting at the nature of reality. Large guiding apriori philosophical "truths about man's nature" are just another type of Revealed Knowledge or Holy Cows, i.e. bullshit.

The first job of getting the outcome you want is to understand the system as it actually is, right?

What we know is human behavior is very strongly influenced by our brains which are not mainly rationality producing machines, but come with billions of years of evolutionary imperatives built in. These manifests as tendencies to see situations in certain ways, impulses, and built-in unconscious value systems that we nevertheless dependably act on.

Like I said, the evidence is absolutely overwhelming now. Read Konrad Lorentz's "On Agression". Read more recent stuff by the so called new Atheists, Dawkins et. al. It's not about is there a god or isn't there (anymore). Read Predictably Irrational. Read Daniel Pinker or David Buss.

Just for the record, I am more or less an egalitarian type in all virtually things. It's pretty clear that where there is radical economic and power inequality, chaos and general societal devolution follows.

Clive RobinsonApril 17, 2015 10:13 AM

@ GreenSquirrel,

With regards your comment to Andrew Wallace of,

Trolling much? Is twitter that quiet you felt the need to stir things up a bit?

I think "delusional trolling" is as high on the list.

One of his comments was so such that not only did I respond to it, I thought I'd seen the same style on this blog before around five years ago and had a little search.

It would appear Andrew Wallace has been here before and linked his name to n3td3v which he claimed was a security organisation (you can find that by using google to search this site with his name).

A more general google on his name and n3td3v turns up a few more interesting tit bits including a rocketmail address, and a number of now non existent google groups, twitter accounts a blog and other "impersonation style false fronts".

Further is information on other mail lists under the name Andrew Wallace and n3td3v showing an almost identical style to here and people getting upset, further there is indications he has been banned for a number of reasons in various lists etc for his style.

He has also on a list using his name the n3td3v name and the email address accused a researcher of stealing another researchers work.

Other people have indicated that Andrew Wallace is a fraud in his own right whilst others have indicated the universiuty he attended and other pertinent information.

I suspect that the @ Moderator will take a further look into things if he carries on with his "inflaming" style.

John PepperApril 17, 2015 12:52 PM

On the article, not much comment but:
https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2010/05/worst-case_thin.html

Linked article, excellent! Very timely for me.

On the topic, I lost something at home this weekend and went to a shop which sold hand held metal detectors cheap to find it. On the same row, I noticed they also had cheap ceramic knives, and I got one because I have from time to time had a knife fetish and was curious about their quality having never had one. We also have been lacking in cutting knives and it was cheap.

This combination brought some amusement as I should my family how a ceramic knife is not detected by a metal detector. :P

While there are not ceramic guns, ala, die hard, probably there are many mechanisms which could fire bullets which are not detectable by metal detectors and can bypass cursory sweeps.

But, IMO, this is not the problem anyone should worry about with mass events. Even with "worse case" thinking -- knives and guns and such things are certainly not the 'worst case scenario'.

I have to agree, however, with the other article, that this entire line of reasoning - or rather lack thereof - is invalid, however.

It is security theater, and focused on 'what the people think', as opposed to hard, well reasoned risk analysis.

JohnPApril 17, 2015 3:41 PM

>> Turk: My name is David Fisk, detective first grade. I've been a cop in the NYPD for over thirty years, in that time I've killed 14 people.

I've never killed any person. Honestly don't know if I could or not. I have been a successful hunter from time to time.

I've never felt "harassed by any cop", but I'm white, generally dressed in clean, casual clothing and can control my temper.

Some of my friends have been harassed. Mainly for driving while black, but a few are short, Jews with attitude - which probably attracts more trouble towards them.

None of us have been directly harmed by any "terrorists." Comparing any inner city to what most Americans see in their normal interactions with police doesn't make sense. We live in the suburbs and rarely visit "the city." Heck, the last time I was inside the "loop" was sometime last fall. We live in different worlds.

The last time I spoke to a police officer in uniform was for a traffic stop about 10 yrs ago. I was written up for 4 items - which forced me to visit the court. All of the charges were thrown out (none were moving violations) and it cost me a day's pay (I'm paid hourly as a consultant). Abuse of power?
I have a friend who is a cop and a brother-in-law is a former cop from Baltimore. They have some great stories, for certain. Some of those stories are about their abuse of power too.

I assume the police shown on youtube behaving badly are having bad days, until I read there were 14 other complaints about the same person. Then, I wonder why they haven't been fired. I was fired from a consulting job for expressing frustration in a voicemail about the other person delaying schedules for something HE WANTED COMPLETED. I didn't cuss, but I did say "baby sitting" - so I was fired.

The point is that the "war on terror" inside most of the USA is complete bunk and a waste of time for almost all peace officers and definitely a waste of 250M citizens time and money.

BooApril 17, 2015 4:07 PM

It's a ring of magnets that attracts the unhinged and unbalanced. Maybe people can make bamboo earings and rings to avoid tripping the alarms. Have grass skirt Friday nights. Give the kiddies bamboo bats. Smoke legal pot in the stands in DC at the old ballgame.

John PepperApril 17, 2015 4:34 PM

@JohnP

The David Fisk character is fictional. Not sure what the statistics are on cops who have had to pull their gun, much less fire it and kill someone with it.

Whatever the case, overall, the situation is bad.

http://boingboing.net/2015/04/14/cops-have-killed-way-more-amer.html


I assume the police shown on youtube behaving badly are having bad days, until I read there were 14 other complaints about the same person. Then, I wonder why they haven't been fired. I was fired from a consulting job for expressing frustration in a voicemail about the other person delaying schedules for something HE WANTED COMPLETED. I didn't cuss, but I did say "baby sitting" - so I was fired.

Police do suffer much more stress then a computer consultant so they are going to get more leeway then a consultant.

If your consultancy job involved getting shot at, your employer probably would have laughed off such a message, and at worst, set you up for psychiatric counseling 'on the job'.

Adrenaline seriously fucks with people and causes them to act out.

There are also many valid reasons where a cop may have to draw a gun and actually use it. The violence rate here can be reasonably attributed to the prevalence of guns. But, that is not going to easily go away. Unlike, say, England, or Japan, where the citizens and cops do not normally have guns, the US has ... Mexico. Colombia. And a massively powerful underground economy spurred by extraordinary illegal drug demand. As well as being much more populous and diverse. (Diversity has drawbacks. People cling to groups they are in and have suspicions and hatreds for rival groups.)

A more difficult problem is policing the policing. There are no easy answers there, but there is an enormous amount of attempts tried, with a wide variety of successes and failures.

A potentially interesting aspect of "the problem" is that it is going to be much bigger and much more prevalent then people currently think. The reason they know about it at all is because of the prevalence of video cameras, their easy access, and frequent use.

The point is that the "war on terror" inside most of the USA is complete bunk and a waste of time for almost all peace officers and definitely a waste of 250M citizens time and money.

An intelligent person processing that first came the "war on drugs" and now the "war on terror" is hard pressed to argue these are reasonable pursuits. Contrasting these ongoing "wars" with knowledge of Orwell's "1984" invariably leads to a bleak conclusion which would be hard for any honest person to forego.

"War on drugs", "war on terror", war in yemen, war in syria, war in iraq, war in afghanistan.... war in libya, war in egypt, war in ukraine...

Domestic problems galore, and profits for vested interests in international involvement obvious and well known.


FrankApril 17, 2015 5:14 PM

I tend to think some of these measures are purely to create more profit for the event organisers.

I went to an open air concert and took a picnic hamper completer with metal knives and fork, Not particularly sharp but functional and some champagne that we had decanted beforehand out of its glass bottle into a plastic one.

When we got to the entrance, we were asked to leave our knives and forks there and we could buy some plastic cutlery inside the event. When asked I was told health and safety reasons. Even though there is no record of anyone being attacked at thee events.

When we left I had to collect my metal cutlery and had quite a choice but picked my own.

Health and Safety, security etc. It all seems a front for profiteering.

Andrew WallaceApril 17, 2015 5:23 PM

Clive Robinson,

I was smeared a number of years ago on public search engines. This resulted in the closure of Full-Disclosure Mailing List in the United Kingdom where the smear took place.

Andrew

SkepticalApril 18, 2015 2:19 PM

And the result of that calm, rational look will be the realization that there will always be places where we pack ourselves densely together, and that we should spend less time trying to secure those places and more time finding terrorist plots before they can be carried out.

This really depends on how you think various types of organizations or persons interested in committing acts of terrorism choose their targets.

The primary attraction of such entities to a baseball game would be the prospect of executing an attack inside the stadium, with cameras rolling, for maximum public impact.

If that avenue is made a little more difficult, other targets may be selected instead. This is particularly the case if those organizations or persons are very limited in their available weapons and tactics. That doesn't solve the problem for society, but it does help achieve what would the MLB's primary interest here.

TõnisApril 18, 2015 5:27 PM

@wiredog "I'm still a bit surprised that no one hit shopping malls at Christmas, either."

That's because no one really is a terrorist, not in North America anyway. "Terrorism" is the police state's bogeyman.

BooApril 18, 2015 5:56 PM

"The story of the strip was of two shops. The very first story told the story of how all of the shops in a terrace of shops closed up, one by one, leaving Bloggs & Son General Store, a popular small corner shop that seemingly sold anything and everything, owned by Mr. Bloggs, a kindly old man wearing the traditional white coat, and his son Ted. Mr. Superstore, a bowler-hatted long-nosed man one day walked into Bloggs' shop and promptly decided to build a new superstore on the site of the demolished shops." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Store_Wars

Bloggs and Amazon are going to demolish the superstores and malls. That'll stop the terrorists from turning the malls into targets. Who is going to attack an empty mall? The new idea is to convert the empty malls into cheap public housing on the busline. The national automobile slum without the automobile. With more slums they'll create more different agency jobs. You can be a Slum Security Administration agent. All slums will have metal detectors and that'll be a trillion dollar program. We'll win Slum Wars by exporting poverty and importing cheap junk.

NSAIApril 19, 2015 10:07 PM

Serve pot instead of beer. $5 Cokes. It's all secure with the ring of magnets. Ratchet up the prices at the snack bars. With horses in the city people can grow weed and sell weed. More manure will help business. Instead of police cars chasing down drunks, you can have police horses supplying potheads. The Swiss cheese spy blimp didn't work. Don't take your Swiss Army knife to the game. Take your pipe and papers.

GreenSquirrelApril 20, 2015 7:03 AM

@Clive - interesting information.

@Andrew Wallace

I was smeared a number of years ago on public search engines. This resulted in the closure of Full-Disclosure Mailing List in the United Kingdom where the smear took place.

Are you talking about the backstory to this?
http://seclists.org/fulldisclosure/2014/Mar/332

Did it take from 2008 until 2014 to get FD shut down then? Wow.

I am not saying you are n3td3v, however your posting here appears to be suspicious, given that you've made repeated inflammatory comments and dont seem to respond to direct comments....

NathanaelApril 29, 2015 10:36 AM

CYA "security" was the habit among the bored apparatchiks in the Brezhnev administration....

...really, this story doesn't end well. Collapse of the country, usually.

CommonsenseJuly 2, 2016 4:34 PM

They are to scan for food and beverages so people buy them at the stadium. I am 2 out of 2 in bringing in both a gun and a knife in a bag. I am 0-2 in bringing in drinks. Security is an illusion. If there is a will there is a way.

DaleCFebruary 12, 2017 1:26 AM

A few things;

1) I agree that a lot of these measures are not motivated by actual attacks or specific threats. Most often they are motivated by perception, legal liability, the political climate and other concerns.
2) I know of an attempted bomb attack in Boston in which the aspiring bomber avoided a venue operated by my previous employer because of visible security elements like search tables, bag searches and mags. He went to prison after attempting to detonate his backpack bomb at a venue across the street which did not have "security theater".
3) after installing mags in my arena, I have witnessed people turn around and go to their car so they could enter without a weapon (concealed guns are VERY common in my part of the USA). I think that is a good thing.
4) I have had an overwhelming number of comments from guests expressing how much more safe they feel at my venue. The more "safe" they "feel", the more likely they are to buy tickets and bring their families. I have had very few complaints.
5) Ingress into my arena is faster with the mags.
6) An increasing number of promoters are requiring mags in order to book their artists. Some even require me to put their touring personnel and performers through the process. ALL my staff go through the same screening (unlike airports)
7) Will you indemnify me from massive damages in the event of an incident? As someone who has spent time in the box as an expert witness, I know that personal injury lawyers would pounce on any medium-to-large arena that did not implement these measures after the NBA and NHL set the "standard".
8) Regarding bombs (or attacks) in crowded lines, you are correct. That said, if mags are your first, or only, layer of security, you are an incompetent moron. Security begins far away from the doors with behavioral observation and other tools.
9)Regarding the many comments on "fascism" and "freedom"... attending an entertainment event is purely voluntary.
10) "and take their costs into account." Good luck explaining to a jury and plaintiff lawyer the math you did that let you not protect their dead/maimed plaintiff.
11)Overreaction? Yes, probably, but don't blame the league, venue, promoter, team... whatever. Balme the politicians and the lawyers.

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