Tuesday, February 21, 2006

In the Land of the Free

New Hampshire sealDespite its current troglodyte administration, I love visiting the US: the amazing geography, the inventiveness and energy of the people, and the high standard of living always make for a great trip.

I'm visiting MIT today, then heading for Dartmouth this afternoon. I'm particularly looking forward to visiting New Hampshire, the "live free or die" state. Let's see how literally they take the state motto ;)

The only drawback with coming to the States is the offensive demands for biometrics at the border (as if the immigration and customs process wasn't already unpleasant enough). As Bruce Schneier points out, this US-VISIT program has been an enormous waste of money as well as invasion of privacy, nabbing only 1,000 low-grade criminals at a cost of at least $15m each. Not nearly as intrusive though as the body scanner I tried out going through security at Heathrow.


Anonymous said...

Why'd you go through the body scanner? You can refuse, it's nasty and you get a dose of xrays.

Ian Brown said...

I was interested to see it in action (and volunteered!)... According to the manufacturers, the millimetre wave radiation used is at a much lower level than mobile phone signals.

The scanner was far too slow to scan more than a small proportion of passengers even in an airport (let alone at train stations as the government is trialling with the Heathrow Express). Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to see just how invasive the resulting images were!

Anonymous said...

I think what'll happen is that when they write the report on this they'll take people volunteering to show willingness, despite as you state you wanted to see what it was like.

Word Mincer said...

good call anonymous! hence the need to support such research with more qualitative investigative research as well, which would attempt to find out interpretively the meaning ascribed to an individual's perception of the event... requires more of a subjective enquirer's point of view! The two types of research would then complement each other and the synthesis of the two sets of findings would no doubt produce something more meaningful than just a set of numbers relating to how many people were willing to walk through it (far too simplistic an interpretation!).