Some interesting reads from the past couple of weeks:
- The Airport Security Follies (New York Times blog) – Pilot Patrick Smith takes a look at the idiocy of our airport screening processes. Smith argues (and I fully agree) that airport security is a charade designed to persuade people that the government is doing something, when in reality most of those measures have zero impact on safety. Part of the reason we tolerate this is that those who are most impacted by this idiocy are a small fraction of the population: pilots, flight attendants and very frequent fliers. Even the media largely ignore it, despite the billions in lost productivity. (This piece didn’t run in the paper.)
When they do cover it, it’s for the theatrics: It never fails that when an idiotic measure is announced that the local TV news has a grandma who flies twice a year talking about how she’s willing to fly naked if that would improve security. The media love scare stories because they get people to watch. A CNN promo running this weekend intones “What if a hurricane hits, gas skyrockets to $10 a gallon and everything collapses?”
Comment #3 to the entry, from another pilot, is also worth reading. via Adam Lasnik
- So far, so good for Midway Airport’s new screening system (Chicago Tribune) – I was stuck in the metal detector line at SFO last week behind a guy who tried to go through wearing a bulky sweatshirt, a backpack and a baby. I’ve long wondered why airports don’t offer beginner, advanced and expert lanes. Chicago’s Midway now has security screening lines that uses ski resort-style lane designations to sort travelers. In theory, it would also benefit inexperienced travelers and families: “Shannon Spicer, who was traveling with her 2-year-old son, Liam, said she liked being able to take her time without other travelers breathing down her neck.” Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal reports similar signs at Cincinnati’s airport aren’t working well: “The TSA agent at the checkpoint said the signs look nice but they don’t help much. Everybody, she said, thinks they’re experts.” At least there are still the elite security lines at hub airports.
- The Future (We Hope) of Journalism (Poynter Online) – Former Los Angeles Times editor John Carroll offers his take on the transition from lucrative virtual monopolies to rapidly shrinking competitors. Like many in the old media, Carroll takes potshots at bloggers: “Although blogs have contributed much to the national discussion, they offer only a rare flash of original reporting. For fresh information, the blogs remain deeply dependent on the old media, which they simultaneously deplore and utilize extensively.” Never mind that bloggers were instrumental in holding the old guard accountable in cases like Dan Rather’s erroneous National Guard story and the L.A. Times’ very similar fiasco about an assault on Tupac Shakur. Or that journalists frequently fill air time and ink by interviewing bloggers like Michelle Leder of footnoted.org. Or that the old media are “deeply dependent” on press releases and political operatives.
- Doing Business with the Semi-Permeable Corporation (Greg Cohn’s blog) – Blogs and social networks have made it much easier to reach out to key decision makers in large corporations. But they haven’t erased the rules of business. Yahoo’s Greg Cohn provides a look at the good and the bad of openness in a large public corporation.