Fla. Couple Camping Outside Store for Black Friday

From The Miami Herald:

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Black Friday is still a week away, but a southwest Florida couple is lining up early for the biggest shopping day of the year.

Lorie and Ryan Davenport set up a large blue tent outside a Best Buy store in St. Petersburg on Wednesday. They plan to camp out for more than a week hoping to be first in line. Store managers gave their blessing.

Penn Jillette vs. TSA Back in 2002

From Penn & Teller’s site:

Last Thursday I was flying to LA on the Midnight flight. I went through security my usual sour stuff. I beeped, of course, and was shuttled to the “toss-em” line. A security guy came over. I assumed the position. I had a button up shirt on that was untucked. He reached around while he was behind me and grabbed around my front pocket. I guess he was going for my flashlight, but the area could have loosely been called “crotch.” I said, “You have to ask me before you touch me or it’s assault.”

He said, “Once you cross that line, I can do whatever I want.”

I said that wasn’t true. I say that I have the option of saying no and not flying. He said, “Are you going to let me search you, or do I just throw you out?”

I said, “Finish up, and then call the police please.”

When he was finished with my shoes, he said, “Okay, you can go.”

I said, “I’d like to see your supervisor and I’d like LVPD to come here as well. I was assaulted by you.”

He said, “You’re free to go, there’s no problem.”

I said, “I have a problem, please send someone over.”

(Thanks to the 3,214 people who sent this to me.)

TSA Has No Time to Train its Screeners

From The ACLU:

Today, the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a new report (PDF), and really, the title says it all. Called “Transportation Security Administration’s Management of Its Screening Workforce Training Program Can Be Improved,” the report finds it took years to get the current passenger screening program off the ground. And when it finally did, let’s just say proper TSA screener training was not the emphasis. Well, there’s a shocker to anyone who’s been reading the news about the TSA lately.

Some gems from the report:

* “The agency does not have documented standard processes to update training based on current information, such as the results of officer testing.” (Page 3)
* “The agency also has not documented procedures to determine or allocate the equipment, support, and time needed for the workforce to complete training requirements, and provides little centralized oversight of the training program.” (Page 3)


et cetera…

Man Makes Ridiculously Complicated Chart To Find Out Who Owns His Mortgage

From The HuffPost:

We all know the mortgage securitization process is complicated.

But just how complicated? The chart below from Zero Hedge shows the convoluted journey a mortgage takes as it morphs into a security.

Dan Edstrom, of DTC Systems, who performs securitization audits, and who is giving a seminar in California next month, spent a year putting together a diagram that traces the path of his own house’s mortgage. “Just When You Thought You Knew Something About Mortgage Securitizations,” says Zero Hedge, you are presented with this almost hilariously complicated chart.

The Hidden Costs of Extra Airport Security

Nate Silver:

Nevertheless, this is more than just some sort of wedge issue for yuppies with wanderlust: there are real and quite tangible consequences stemming from the procedures that the T.S.A. chooses to implement.

Consider what happens, for instance, when travelers are inconvenienced by a new security procedure. Yes, most of them will simply pass through the new body-scanners without incident, buy a snack at the Cinnabon, and go on their merry way. But others will do something different: they will be sufficiently annoyed by the procedures that they will decide not to travel by air the next time they have the choice.

In the past, more cumbersome security procedures have had deleterious effects on passenger demand. A study by three professors at Cornell University found, for instance, that when the T.S.A. began to require checked baggage to be screened in late 2002, it reduced overall passenger traffic by about 6 percent. (You can actually see these effects a bit when looking at the air traffic statistics: passenger traffic on U.S.-based airlines dropped by about 6 percent from the fourth quarter of 2002 to the first quarter of 2003 — greater than the usual seasonal variance — even though the economy was recovering and travelers were starting to get over the fear brought on by the Sept. 11 attacks.)

More stringent security procedures, in essence, function as a tax upon air travel, and produce a corresponding deadweight loss. Teleconferences are often a poor substitute for person-to-person interaction, and when people are reluctant to travel, some business deals don’t get done that otherwise would have. Recreational travelers, meanwhile, may skip out on vacations that otherwise would have brought them pleasure and stress-relief (while improving revenues for tourism-dependent economies). The tenuous profits of the airline industry are also affected, of course. Revenue losses from the new bag-checking procedures may have measured in the billions, according to the Cornell study.

TSA Confiscates Armed Soldier’s Nail Clippers

It happened on a military chartered plane where soldiers were allowed to bring their assault rifles and pistols on board but not their nail clippers:

The TSA personnel at the airport seriously considered making us unload all of the baggage from the SECURE cargo hold to have it reinspected. Keep in mind, this cargo had been unpacked, inspected piece by piece by U.S. Customs officials, resealed and had bomb-sniffing dogs give it a one-hour run through. After two hours of sitting in this holding area, the TSA decided not to reinspect our Cargo–just to inspect us again: Soldiers on the way home from war, who had already been inspected, reinspected and kept in a SECURE holding area for 2 hours. Ok, whatever. So we lined up to go through security AGAIN.

This is probably another good time to remind you all that all of us were carrying actual assault rifles, and some of us were also carrying pistols.

So we’re in line, going through one at a time. One of our Soldiers had his Gerber multi-tool. TSA confiscated it. Kind of ridiculous, but it gets better. A few minutes later, a guy empties his pockets and has a pair of nail clippers. Nail clippers. TSA informs the Soldier that they’re going to confiscate his nail clippers. The conversation went something like this:

TSA Guy: You can’t take those on the plane.

Soldier: What? I’ve had them since we left country.

TSA Guy: You’re not suppose to have them.

Soldier: Why?

TSA Guy: They can be used as a weapon.

Soldier: [touches butt stock of the rifle] But this actually is a weapon. And I’m allowed to take it on.

TSA Guy: Yeah but you can’t use it to take over the plane. You don’t have bullets.

Soldier: And I can take over the plane with nail clippers?

TSA Guy: [awkward silence]

(via Boing Boing)