Outstanding!: January 2008 Archives


January 31, 2008

In what is probably not the most astute PR move ever, the TSA has decided to start a blog. It's sort of weirdly earnest and self-justifying. For example:

There is no time to talk, to listen, to engage with each other. There isn't much opportunity for our Security Officers to explain the 'why,' of what we ask you to do at the checkpoint, just the 'what' needs to be done to clear security. The result is that the feedback and venting ends up circulating among passengers with no real opportunity for us to learn from you or vice versa. We get feedback verbally and non-verbally at the checkpoint and see a lot in the blogs, again without a real dialogue.

Our ambition is to provide here a forum for a lively, open discussion of TSA issues. While I and senior leadership of TSA will" participate in the discussion, we are turning the keyboard over to several hosts who represent what's best about TSA (its people). Our hosts aren't responsible for TSA's policies, nor will they have to defend them -- their job is to engage with you straight-up and take it from there. Our hosts will have access to senior leadership but will have very few editorial constraints. Our postings from the public will be reviewed to remove the destructive but not touch the critical or cranky.

Truth be told, they really haven't censored the comments much, and the comments thread on the first post seem to be split about 20/20/60 (this is just a rough estimate, it's not like I actually counted all of them) between:

  • I'm a TSA employee and this is really great.
  • Could you please explain the following baffling TSA security practice?
  • I fly a lot and the TSA sucks, as do their policies.

Unsurprisingly, I don't see a lot of real engagement with the points being raised by commenters. It's mostly the same sort of vague defensiveness you see in the TSA's more formal communications with the public. For instance, this post wants to be a justification of the shoe policy:

It's not all about Richard Reid when it comes to the screening of shoes. Post all of your thoughts about shoes in this blog post. To learn more about how the shoe fits in with the TSA, check out our web page on "why we screen shoes". Then come back here and let's talk.

The article this is referring to is here and transitively these "recently declassified" (nothing like that to give the air of authenticity) photos of x-rays of shoes with explosives in them:

Wow, that's totally convincing, except for the fact that (1) you can get hard (machinable) explosives which you could form into the whole sole of the shoe, pretty much making this sort of contrast technique useless and (2) there are lots of ways to conceal the explosive (non-magnetic, remember) parts of a bomb on your body [*].

People of course point this out in the comments section, but the TSA people don't respond, so the whole exercise is kind of pointless. Do they really expect this to make anyone have a more positive opinion of TSA?


January 30, 2008

In the comments, Dave B. asks:
Can you share your solution, please? 'Not the world's most intuitive UI' is being _very_ polite! That change has smashed hundreds of my inbound links ... but damned if I can find the place to set the dirify defaults ... :-(

Glad you asked.

Go to "Design | Templates | Archive Templates | Individual Entry Archive". At the bottom is a pulldown labelled "Archive Mapping". It's probably set to yyyy/mm/entry-basename.html. Apparently this is a schematic representation of the names. If you change it to yyyy/mm/entry_basename.html (note substitution of underscore for hyphen) you'll get underscorified permalinks. Totally intuitive, eh?