Category Archives: security theater

privilege, my foot

A Mother’s White Privilege

To admit white privilege is to admit a stake, however small, in ongoing injustice. It’s to see a world different than your previous perception. Acknowledging that your own group enjoys social and economic benefits of systemic racism is frightening and uncomfortable.

She lists a bunch of ugly things that are unlikely to happen to her sons, as well as some offensive things not said to her by the ignorant, thanks to their blondness.

What’s missing from the piece is any description of “benefits” — any reason to believe that we as Whites would be any worse off if, for example, the Blue Gang were to stop abusing Blacks.

Not being murdered by cops is not a “privilege”. Nobody ever said, “Let’s organize and arm a gang of bullies so that they can spend their days not murdering our kind of people.” Absence of SWAT raids is the state of nature, not an artificial benefit.

fun with paranoia

I’m reading Cory Doctorow’s novel Little Brother, which has been nominated for a Prometheus Award. In another tab I’m reading an autobiographical comic-strip by a boy of the same age as the novel’s narrator; switching between them is sometimes surreal.

Though he has lived in San Francisco, Doctorow makes occasional errors.

Even if you’ve never been to San Francisco, chances are you know what the Golden Gate looks like: it’s that big orange suspension bridge that swoops dramatically from the old military base called the Presidio to Sausalito, where all the cutesy wine-country towns are with their scented candle shops and art galleries.

Sausalito is indeed the nearest town north of the bridge, but it is only one of the cutesy towns in Marin County (which isn’t usually called part of “wine country”).

“He was going to take the BART over.”
“Don’t you know about the BART?”

Only a tourist says “the BART”.

“. . . But it used to be impossible to fly or go to the moon or get a hard-drive with more than a few kilobytes of storage. . . .”

Hm, given the narrator’s youth I guess I can believe he has the impression that the first HDs were so small.

… one of her favorite Brazilian tecno-brega bands, Carioca Proibidão — the forbidden guy from Rio.

That ‘ã’ looks out of place. Andre, shouldn’t it be –ido?

Mom’s a freelance relocation specialist who helps British people get settled in in San Francisco. The UK High Commission pays her . . . .

Most of the members of the (British) Commonwealth have the same head of state, so they don’t send each other Ambassadors; they have High Commissioners instead. Doctorow, being Canadian, may have forgotten that the UK has an embassy to the US.

Ocean Beach is way out past Golden Gate park, a stark cliff lined with expensive, doomed houses . . . .

The clifftop houses are at China Beach, further north. The area of Ocean Beach (where I lived, 1988–92) is mostly flat.

“Mr Governor” sounds alien. I never thought of that before: why do “President” and (usually) “Mayor” get the prefix, but not “Governor” or “Senator”?

Qaeda is misspelled Quaeda two times out of five.

military strategy for dummies

When they say “we’re fighting them in Iraq so that we don’t have to fight them at home,” what do they mean?

I’m imagining wannabe-terrorists throughout the Moslem world moaning, “I’d like to go to the Great Satan and blow shit up, but I can’t get past that cursed roadblock in Baghdad!” . . . but that’s just silly.

Is Iraq vital to terrorist logistics? Almost as silly, but maybe the War Party has got enough of the People convinced of it.

One other interpretation makes sense to me: that “our” forces are in Iraq to provide the terrorists with a more convenient and conspicuous target.


Charity finds that U.S. food aid for Africa hurts instead of helps. Oh dear, CARE has been taken over by evil selfish libertarians. What else could explain such a conclusion?

What American accent do you have? I got Philadelphia on the first try, and I’ve never even visited Philadelphia. I went back and changed Mary/merry/marry from “marry is different” (a conscious affectation on my part; I value distinctions) to “all alike”, and got Midland, no surprise.

The Serious Organised Crime & Police Act 2005 forbids protesting in the vicinity of Westminster Palace without a permit. What is a concerned comedian to do? (three parts, about 29 minutes total)

so don’t try nothin!

A friend of a friend exults at Boston’s narrow escape from cartoon peril:

“Take this as a warning, enemies of America. All of your nefarious plans to harm us — provided said plans are placed in in plain view on busy public streets and covered with flashing, colored lights — shall be discovered and neutralized in LESS THAN THREE WEEKS!”

By the way, what are the keywords to find a picture of the pseudinfernal device?

security theater kills

Fake identifying documents save lives in Iraq:

At any time, the relevant authorities in Iraq could have decreed that all people get (as near as possible) forgery-proof biometric ID cards and carry them at all times – a great way to batten down a country, right?

Doing so would have fed directly into the strategy being used by the enemies of peace and security in Iraq today: setting up fake checkpoints and killing people who arrive there members of the wrong sect. Identity cards had a role in the Rwandan genocide just over 10 years ago, as well.

(Cited by Bruce Schneier.)

the saga continues

Today I once again had an errand at a Feral office building. This time, when I asked the badge for information about the pointless rule that I wouldn’t be admitted to the building without showing evidence that some government somewhere thinks it knows who I am, I was directed to a sign on the wall containing excerpts of 41 CFR 102-74 — but the nearest thing I could find to a relevant passage was this:

When property or a portion thereof is closed to the public, restrict admission to the property, or the affected portion, to authorized persons who must register upon entry to the property and must, when requested, display Government or other identifying credentials to Federal police officers or other authorized individuals when entering, leaving or while on the property.