Study Finds Slow Airport Security Has An Upside

TSA agent
Mobile Edge Laptop Cases, Flickr

Going through airport security is a lesson in patience for even the most Zen traveler, but the good news is that those frustratingly slow security screenings might actually be more effective. According to a new study, TSA screeners who take their time are more successful at identifying targets like weapons or restricted items.

The study pitted TSA agents against Ivy League college students to test how well each group conducted a visual search. The experiment was simple and tested natural search skills (searching for a particular shape on a computer screen) – so the TSA screeners had no advantage over the students. The results showed that the college students were faster at completing the tasks but the TSA agents were more accurate.Stephen Mitroff, the psychologist heading up the research, told NBC news that the TSA screeners were slower because they were more methodical, which is ultimately what led to better results. “Our interpretation is those who are most experienced have found their strategy and use it the same way over and over – whether you spiral through the bag or are zig-zagging left and right. If you’re always doing the strategy and always doing it consistently, you’re freeing up your cognitive resources – your other abilities to try to identify targets,” he said.

The research is part of a larger study being conducted by the Department of Homeland Security.

Where The Hell Is Matt? Gets Zapped By Tesla Cannon

In case you’re unfamiliar with gadabout/YouTube sensation/random dancer Where the Hell is Matt?, I suggest you click here. Or, you can take the easy way out and read this synopsis: Matt Harding is that guy who made a bunch of videos of himself doing a goofy dance in front of various global landmarks, and achieved that peculiar level of fame unique to those who have gone viral.

In the video below, Matt is shown getting bombarded with 10,000 volts of electricity by a Tesla cannon. I had no idea what that is, because my editor just assigned me this post. I’m glad, because I was watching a really bad Greek film on Netflix.

Anyway, a Tesla cannon, according to Fallout Wiki, is a “shoulder-mounted directed energy weapon using technology pioneered by Nikola Tesla.” I also needed to look up who Nikola Tesla was, so don’t feel bad (maybe I should feel bad)?

Matt, we appreciate your taking one for the team in the name of travel. Next, we’d like to see you dance in front of a herd of stampeding Cape buffalo in Uganda.


Robert E. Lee’s sword to go on display at Appomattox

Robert E. Lee, Civil WarOn 9 April 1865, Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant met at Appomattox, Virginia, so that Lee could surrender his Army of Northern Virginia.

This momentous event effectively ended the American Civil War. With Lee and his army gone, the Confederate cause lost hope. General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered the Army of Tennessee on April 26, and in Louisiana General Kirby Smith surrendered his Trans-Mississippi Confederate forces on May 26. The last Confederate general to surrender was the Cherokee Brigadier General Stand Watie in the Indian Territory on June 23.

Now a new museum will open at Appomattox dedicated to the war and its conclusion. A centerpiece of the display will be Robert E. Lee’s golden ceremonial sword. Owned by the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, the sword will grace a branch museum it’s building at Appomattox. The museum is also building branches at the important Civil War sites of Fredericksburg and Hampton Roads. The Appomattox museum will open next spring.

The sword was the same worn by Lee during the surrender. Lee famously showed up in full dress uniform with his French-made golden sword at his side. Grant showed up unkempt and wearing a muddy uniform.

The sword has recently been restored with a new layer of gilt that has restored its original luster.

[Image of Robert E. Lee courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Bogota airport security restriction: no hand grenades (or any other grenades)

Bogota airport security

With airport security on the rise around the world, it isn’t surprising to see long, fairly exhaustive lists of what you can’t take on the plane. Who among us doesn’t know someone who’s lost a lighter or bottle of shampoo at the security line because of these restrictions? It just seems endless.

Well, it gets crazier than what you’re seeing here in the United States. A reader just sent me this photo today, taken at the Bogota, Colombia airport’s security checkpoint. Apparently, it’s important to itemize the types of weapon you are not permitted to bring on board.

Is this level of detail really necessary? I mean, who the hell would think axes, tear gas or a “Ninja Star” is acceptable for in-flight entertainment. Seriously, an effing sword?! This is nuts.

So, if you’re passing through Bogota, make sure you do not have a “Hand grenade or any grenade,” likely referring to the sort you’d affix to an RPG for an M203 grenade launcher. Those things can be expensive, and it would suck to have to surrender it at security.

[Thanks, PK]

Hezbollah theme park: an attraction designed with terror in mind


Are you always searching for a roller coaster that will make your hair stand on end? Well, if you really want to scare yourself, skip the traditional amusement park rides and catch a flight out to Beirut. There’s a “theme park” in town that will open your eyes wide and keep you looking over your shoulder.

Hezbollah has gotten into the Disney business.

Identified as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, Hezbollah’s new endeavor isn’t doing a thing to change that perception. Called “Landmark for the Resistance,” the theme park celebrates the group’s military efforts against Israel. Enter the park, and you can wander among implements of mayhem and destruction, from tanks to machine guns … and you can even get some photo ops of the kids with their fingers on the trigger!

Designed and built by Hezbollah, Landmark for the Resistance cost a mere $4 million, a pittance compared to what it would cost to get an attraction up here in the United States. So far, the park’s been a success, one of the few in a country that has had trouble attracting tourists because of … well … Hezbollah.

Buoyed by the strong response, especially the smiling children, I suspect, Hezbollah has already committed to expansion plans. Look for a cable car wandering around the guns ‘n’ ammo soon – and a hotel and a restaurant.