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I get profiled every time I snap a railfan picture, yet they hand an entrance visa to a terrorist...

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I get profiled every time I snap a railfan picture, yet they hand an entrance visa to a terrorist...
Posted by karldotcom on Monday, December 28, 2009 3:15 PM

I was thinking about the times I have been questioned for legally taking photos from public property under the guise of "Homeland Security" and reading about this weekend's incident and security failures....And yet getting prepared for even more harrassment in the future.

 Interesting Wall Street Journal post on the latest rules: http://blogs.wsj.com/middleseat/2009/12/28/tsa-measures-after-pants-bomber-defy-logic/

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Posted by samfp1943 on Monday, December 28, 2009 3:28 PM

Everything referencing "security" is now reactivly based, Proactive seems to have slipped out of the vena cular. Why spend money to plan when you an wait for an event to occur and then get ton's of money thrown at the resolution. It is easier to have a problem area identified for you than to spend money in a scattershot effort to solve potential issues.Blindfold  PoliticiansConfused, Ya gotta love 'em.WhistlingMy 2 cents

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by tree68 on Monday, December 28, 2009 4:28 PM

Too many of the reactive measures are "feel good" bandaids - they do little to actually reduce a threat, but they make people feel like they're doing something.

Nonetheless, it does little for one's confidence when a threat gets past the established lines of defense.

As railfans the best thing we can do if confronted is to keep our cool.  Try to discuss the situation rationally, and if the challenging party isn't buying it, move on.  They'll soon be home feeling good about themselves, and we'll be back trackside, catching another great shot.

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Posted by Phoebe Vet on Monday, December 28, 2009 4:59 PM

As we sink ever deeper in the quicksand of paranoia you can count on the government tightening their grip on society in general.  You can also count on the majority of people going along with it and buying into the illusion of safety being more important than freedom.

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Monday, December 28, 2009 5:36 PM

Thanks for that WSJ link.  Now just wait until longtime Trains columnist Don Phillips - who shares similar skepticism about illusory security measures - gets hold of this.  Too bad he doesn't still work for the Washington Post - TSA would get the skewering it so richly deserves.

As I posted on here some months ago, at around 10:00 PM on Monday evening, June 1, 2009, there was an unattended luxury car parked in the 'Drop-Off/ Pick-Up' zone under Terminal A at Philadelphia International Airport for at least 10 - 15 minutes.  Aside from the major traffic hassles it caused by blocking one of the lanes, there was no Philly cop or any airport security in sight at any time - and we can all imagine the potential security failure implications.  I reported the transgression to TSA and the Phila. Airport security by e-mail the next day.  To date - almost 7 months later - absolutely no reply or acknowledgment of my message whatsoever from anyone.  So I hope no Nigerian terrorist is reading this . . . Sigh

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Posted by jeffhergert on Monday, December 28, 2009 6:44 PM

So will the new security measures for air travel mean they will soon be taking the shackles out of the box cars and installing them in air planes? 

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Posted by Modelcar on Monday, December 28, 2009 7:42 PM

....With all the information gathering mechanisms in place {computer data}, for air travel security around the world, one would think {if strickly adhered to}, that would go a long way in identifying the suspects when they appear for actually getting on an airline to travel.

What seems to be the reality from time to time we see these incidents happening.....we {the world security forces}, do not act, and take advantage of available information.  This recent incident is another example of just that.  So many red flags in place, but not enough actual action to stop such person from entering that aircraft.

P C should not be an item that prevents such actions either......If security happens to make a stop and they are wrong....It sure must be less of a problem to undo than to possibly have a jumbo jet fall out of the sky with hundreds of lives lost....!

I realize the fact each security process involved must include humans, and we all know after a given time of "no problems" and the system is running without any deviations from "normal".....humans, tend to be lax.  That certainly is a factor, but I'm sure there are smart persons that have a level of knowledge that could construct accountable methods to minimize that too.....

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Posted by Ulrich on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 11:00 AM

I would rather drive a thousand miles than fly anywhere. It used to be that flying was convenient and fast...now it is neither. 

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 11:27 AM

This morning I was thinking that it's time for another article or post about how this incident and the resulting security delays might benefit Amtrak by increasing demand for it services - although many lines are close to capacity now anyway.  Lo and behold, while driving in to work I then hear exactly that in the last seconds of this 'regional news' report from the Philadelphia's National Public Radio station WHYY-FM 90.9 during the NPR Morning Edition program this morning:

Added airport security could deter business travelers

Monday, December 28th, 2009
By: Elizabeth Fiedler

http://whyy.org/cms/news/regional-news/2009/12/28/added-airport-security-could-deter-business-travelers/26500 

[snip] "Kevin Mitchell is Chairman of the Radnor-based Business Travel Coalition.

Mitchell: For a business traveler not knowing if it's going to be 15 minutes or an hour or an hour and a half, really robs a business traveler of his or her productivity. So business travelers are going to look at those 2 1/2, 3 hour, 3 1/2 hour flights and say how much time – total elapsed time – is it going to take me to get there by air? And if it's 4 hours and it takes 4 1/2 hours or 4 hours to do it by car, car is going to win in of many situations.

Mitchell says Amtrak is going also going to be a big winner." [emphasis added - PDN]

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 11:36 AM

Mischief  Bad idea for a really bad 'Grade B' movie plot:

The AAR and Class I freight railroad executives realize this incident could lead to a boost in demand and political/ government actions for Amtrak and other passenger services over their lines, which would seriously interfere with their operations and profitability.  To forestall and preclude that, they obtain secret U.S. Government approval for their funding and establishing a covert and 'plausible denial' private army/ task force operation to 'take out' and 'terminate with extreme prejudice' the Al Quaeda terrorists and their bases and training camps, etc., in whatever country they are found, without the formalities and niceties of diplomacy, treaties, due process, trials, etc. - not even a summary court martial.  It goes on and is either a success, or turns into a rogue operation, or [something else - insert the ending you like . . .  Whistling ].

Ok, got that out of my system now . . . .

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Posted by Phoebe Vet on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 11:53 AM

I have not flown since that spooky Orwellian agency took over the airports, and will probably never fly again since it appears that their presence will be eternal.

I seem to be the exception but I prefer freedom to the illusion of security.

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 12:31 PM

More like 'Keystone Kops', judging from this recent inept non-performance.  Could it disrupt the plot of even a pastrami sandwich Mischief

Just as long as it leaves leave Amtrak, the commuter rail operations, and the freight railroads pretty much alone from its illusion/ delusion of vaunted 'security measures', please, thank you very much. 

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 1:09 PM

Paul_D_North_Jr

More like 'Keystone Kops', judging from this recent inept non-performance.  Could it disrupt the plot of even a pastrami sandwich Mischief

Just as long as it leaves leave Amtrak, the commuter rail operations, and the freight railroads pretty much alone from its illusion/ delusion of vaunted 'security measures', please, thank you very much. 

- Paul North.

Boarding inspections in the latest incidents was done in Nigeria and the Netherlands (not that US Inspectors would have done better).  On international flights I always wonder how seriously the foreign inspectors take their duties.  Israel I am sure takes it serious, the rest ?????

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Posted by Ulrich on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 1:15 PM

Phew, I think i'll just walk...all these security measures might just make the good old fashioned ankle wagon the fastest way to go.

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 2:07 PM

BaltACD
  Boarding inspections in the latest incidents was done in Nigeria and the Netherlands (not that US Inspectors would have done better).  On international flights I always wonder how seriously the foreign inspectors take their duties.  Israel I am sure takes it serious, the rest ????? 

Sure - but that's just the same issue that always arises when the performance of an essential duty is subcontracted or delegated away to someone else or someplace else, regardless of whether it is security inspections or building sub-contractors or even railroad employees in remote locations: How do you - as the person responsible for seeing that it is done correctly, the first time and every time - know that the tasks being done right ?  There's just no room for errors.  The system was created by TSA - over the last 8 years, with the same administration in place for 7 of those years - and this is the best they can do ?  There are not many other options other than to accept those overseas performances, but that just reinforces the 'weak link vulnerability' of the process.

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 2:09 PM

''Marrowbone Express'', as the late writer Michael Crichton referred to that mode of commuting in London in the 1850's or 1860's in his novel, The Great Train Robbery

- PDN.

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Posted by bubbajustin on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 3:19 PM

Basically we get ridiculed by the government for taking photo’s of trains, and vital railroad infrastructure, but yet they let a terrorist get on an Airbus and almost blow it up? What doesn’t make since here?

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Posted by RudyRockvilleMD on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 9:31 PM

I agree with Paul D. North the attempt to blow up Northwest's Amsterdam-Detroit flight could lead more business travelers to choose Amtrak for short trips especially if there are restrictions on using carry-on's on the last hour of domestic flights since they can't get at their lap tops for the last hour of the flight, assuming their batteries hold up that long.Smile

I do not think the attempt to blow up the Northwest Airlines Amsterdam-Detroit flight will lead to more harassment of railfans photographing trains from public property.   

  

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Posted by zardoz on Wednesday, December 30, 2009 8:46 AM

Phoebe Vet

I have not flown since that spooky Orwellian agency took over the airports, and will probably never fly again since it appears that their presence will be eternal.

I seem to be the exception but I prefer freedom to the illusion of security.

A key word here is illusion. I would have no problems with additional security measures, whether it be in an airport, train station, highway check point, etc if, and this a big IF, all of these procedures actually increased security.  I certainly do not want to be blown up by some radical extremist on his way to his 72 virgins in heaven, but I also do not want to live in a society where any deviation from the mean results in official scrutiny.  A society that tolerates no behavior other than a narrow range of 'accepted' behaviors is destined to stagnate and die. 

I wouldn't care if there were cameras on every street corner on the planet IF the persons behind the cameras were:
    Professional
    Trustworth
    Honest
    Patriotic (in the true sense of the word, not as a jingoistic catch-phrase)
    And the agency responsible for the data management of all of this surveilance information was not part of a oppressive government, and it employed top-notch IT security systems.

However, being as the conditions I mentioned above only seem to exist in the movies, the potential for abusive 'oppression by monitoring' is too huge to be discounted.

I seems that the "illusion of security" has been sufficiently shattered by the recent airline event. I just hope that there are no more events that highlight the other flaws in our national defense.

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Posted by schlimm on Wednesday, December 30, 2009 9:07 AM

zardoz

Phoebe Vet

I have not flown since that spooky Orwellian agency took over the airports, and will probably never fly again since it appears that their presence will be eternal.

I seem to be the exception but I prefer freedom to the illusion of security.

A key word here is illusion.

 

There are insiders who would confirm that much of our airport security since 9/11 is just that, an illusion of security to let people feel confident about flying.  All reactive.  A determined terrorist could and has broken through the current veil, and whatever additional measures are instituted probably could not prevent another incident, short of strip searches, etc. for all, which would shut down the airlines.  Even so, the ports and rails are rather less than secure.   Barring a fundamental change in our dealings with the Islamic world, threats will continue, the same way the IRA was a constant threat in the UK until the Northern Ireland situation got addressed.

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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, December 30, 2009 10:54 AM

Israel targets individuals for scrutiny based on suspicion.  In this country, we must level all scrutiny uniformly to all individuals to avoid what is called profiling.  This principle of this supposed fairness dilutes the security product so that there is not enough money to make it effective.

 

Therefore, terrorists are learning that their greatest weapon against us is, ironically, our own homeland security.  Pretty soon, all the terrorists will have to do is make telephone threats, and homeland security will strangle us with more restrictions.  Eventually we can’t move, and the terrorists have won. 

 

So, for all practical purposes, every terrorist bomb hits its target and does its damage whether it goes off or not.

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Posted by switch7frg on Wednesday, December 30, 2009 11:05 AM

 I can only wonder when ( homeland security ) will take over the interstate highway system with their cartoon ineptness ??? Our borders are just a thinly desguised screen door.

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Wednesday, December 30, 2009 11:21 AM

   Fellas-  here's a prime example of something that seems to be on people's radar on this forum.

     Here is a thread that started with a very slim tie to railroads.  It has now steered completely away from railroads, never to go back.  So far, it has been civil.  However, it just to that point where it will turn political, and then, right after that, it will probably shift right into name-calling ugly.

     Here's your chance-  If you were a VOLUNTEER, user/moderator on this forum, where would you go from here?

Consider the following:

*Some posters will report this on the Report Abuse button
*It really is off-topic, and not about trains in the least
*The thread now has political overtones, complete with hot-button issues
*No matter what you do, someone will complain that you handled it wrong.

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Posted by blownout cylinder on Wednesday, December 30, 2009 11:32 AM

Since it comes across as only slightly train related I'm going to ask about just where that line is drawn---I know that I'd be a little free wheeling with that but others may want to stick only to the mechanical details of a 244 vs a 645 for example---

And since this already was something that had a 'polly tick' being played out then----Confused

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Wednesday, December 30, 2009 11:46 AM

blownout cylinder

Since it comes across as only slightly train related I'm going to ask about just where that line is drawn---I know that I'd be a little free wheeling with that but others may want to stick only to the mechanical details of a 244 vs a 645 for example---

And since this already was something that had a 'polly tick' being played out then----Confused

Issuing issues---OY

  I understand your first thought,  but I'm not sure I get the other two.  Can you explain?

Disclaimer of sorts:  I'm not trying to start any battle here,  I'm just trying to get a feel of how you guys view some of the things we deal with.  So please- don't read anything into it, that isn't there.

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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, December 30, 2009 12:33 PM

Murphy Siding

   Fellas-  here's a prime example of something that seems to be on people's radar on this forum.

     Here is a thread that started with a very slim tie to railroads.  It has now steered completely away from railroads, never to go back.  So far, it has been civil.  However, it just to that point where it will turn political, and then, right after that, it will probably shift right into name-calling ugly.

     Here's your chance-  If you were a VOLUNTEER, user/moderator on this forum, where would you go from here?

Consider the following:

*Some posters will report this on the Report Abuse button
*It really is off-topic, and not about trains in the least
*The thread now has political overtones, complete with hot-button issues
*No matter what you do, someone will complain that you handled it wrong.

How do you know that the thread is at the point where it will turn political?

 

To the extent that the thread drifts from the relationship between security and rail photography, and into the pure topic of security, I suppose you could say that the thread is off-topic.  However, the pure topic of security is half the topic of the original post, so it does not seem unusual to bounce from one half the topic to the other during the discussion.

 

How do you know that the thread has steered completely away from railroads, and will never go back?

 

You said this thread now has "political overtones."  What are the political overtones in this thread?

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Wednesday, December 30, 2009 1:19 PM

Bucyrus
How do you know that the thread is at the point where it will turn political?
Off the top of my head,  I'd say when it drifts to discussions of things like "Our borders are just a thinly desguised screen door",  it's hard to make a case that it's not.
 
To the extent that the thread drifts from the relationship between security and rail photography, and into the pure topic of security, I suppose you could say that the thread is off-topic.  However, the pure topic of security is half the topic of the original post, so it does not seem unusual to bounce from one half the topic to the other during the discussion.
    I suppose that I agree with you.  If the subject was about marhmallows and trains,  how far should the moderators let it go on, when it becomes all about marshmallows?  I mean, it could turn back to trains, and away from marshmallows-right? ( In the past, some, although very few, threads have turned back away from politics, once they hit the slippery slope.  I give kudos to those posters who have, in the past, pulled threads out of the fire.)
 
How do you know that the thread has steered completely away from railroads, and will never go back? History,  I'm afraid.  Which is not to say that a straying topic doesn't have interest, but this is a railroad forum.
 
You said this thread now has "political overtones."  What are the political overtones in this thread?   I'd say 2 things:  the tone, and the use of buzzwords  ...".Our borders are just a thinly desguised screen door"......"cartoon ineptness"...."72 virgins"...



Sorry about the clunky way I answered this,  but it looked like the clearest way to answer each question.

 
   Back to basics:given what you see on this thread, and given the parameters we try to follow for a railroad forum,  what would you, as a volunteer user/moderator do?  I'm curious.

-Norris

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Posted by Phoebe Vet on Wednesday, December 30, 2009 1:27 PM

I'll give it a little tug back toward trains:

If the draconian idiocy at the airport ever finds it's way to the train stations I will stop riding trains just as I have stopped traveling by air.

Too political?

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Posted by garr on Wednesday, December 30, 2009 2:06 PM

Murphy Siding

Bucyrus

 
To the extent that the thread drifts from the relationship between security and rail photography, and into the pure topic of security, I suppose you could say that the thread is off-topic.  However, the pure topic of security is half the topic of the original post, so it does not seem unusual to bounce from one half the topic to the other during the discussion.
    I suppose that I agree with you.  If the subject was about marhmallows and trains,  how far should the moderators let it go on, when it becomes all about marshmallows?  I mean, it could turn back to trains, and away from marshmallows-right? ( In the past, some, although very few, threads have turned back away from politics, once they hit the slippery slope.  I give kudos to those posters who have, in the past, pulled threads out of the fire.)

 



Sorry about the clunky way I answered this,  but it looked like the clearest way to answer each question.

 
   Back to basics:given what you see on this thread, and given the parameters we try to follow for a railroad forum,  what would you, as a vulunteer user/moderator do?  I'm curious.

-Norris

 

Norris,

A large number of threads with high post counts seems to be the Trains forum version of the whisper game--the one where the first person in line whispers a sentence, such as "Tidy Joe wants to see the cats go" and the last person in line states what they heard, which ends up as "The cat plays a banjo".

What starts out being discussed usually gets sidetracked by someones recollections of memory brought forward in the original posters discussion, then the thread gets another life of its own.

This is one of the things that makes the forum interesting. 

As far as politics, they have been involved with railroading since the first charter of the B&O. It is mentioned freely in the magazine, often with differing opinions than my own. Yet, more times than not, it seems to be the third-rail of discussions in this forum.

 

Jay

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Wednesday, December 30, 2009 2:34 PM

garr

Norris,

A large number of threads with high post counts seems to be the Trains forum version of the whisper game--the one where the first person in line whispers a sentence, such as "Tidy Joe wants to see the cats go" and the last person in line states what they heard, which ends up as "The cat plays a banjo".

What starts out being discussed usually gets sidetracked by someones recollections of memory brought forward in the original posters discussion, then the thread gets another life of its own.

This is one of the things that makes the forum interesting. 

As far as politics, they have been involved with railroading since the first charter of the B&O. It is mentioned freely in the magazine, often with differing opinions than my own. Yet, more times than not, it seems to be the third-rail of discussions in this forum.

 

Jay



     I agree with you on both points, but a lot of times, politics becomes the thread, rather than being part of the discussion as the thread pertains to railroading.  That's where things go astray, and that's why the forum policies are written as they are.

    I'm just trying to get some input from other forum members as to how they would handle a thread such as this, for example, if they were volunteer user/moderators.  How would you handle this?

-Norris

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