Five by 8 – 5/4/10: What New York teaches us

1) Why do security officials always take it out on airline passengers? When a man tried to light his shoe bomb on fire, we all had to take off our shoes, and we couldn’t take mouthwash on our carry-ons. In December, another guy tried to light his underwear bomb on fire, and for a few days, we couldn’t get up out of our seats.

Last weekend, someone tried to blow up Times Square with a car bomb in an SUV, and yet SUVs are still allowed in Manhattan. Why? Because the TSA isn’t running midtown Manhattan.

The Atlantic’s James Fallows says the response shows the difference between Washington and New York:


Something about airplanes and air travel heightens the emotional response to such threats (as Bruce Schneier and I discussed in a Second Life conversation recently). Thus the mood of fear and panic after this event seems less than after the foiled “underwear bombing” airline plot at Christmas time. But as a matter of logic, the steps above are what the TSA approach would necessitate. After all, we still feel the consequences (shoes off! no liquids!) of the failed “shoe bomber” in 2001, and there is no foreseeable reason to expect that to change.

There is one other crucial element in the Times Square case, and it can’t be stressed often enough. So far we have seen a New York-style rather than a Washington-style response to the threat. And while New York is the least “American” of U.S. cities, its emotional and social response is just what America’s should be.

Meanwhile, the suspect in the Times Square attempted bombing has been arrested. He’s a Pakistani American. The “white guy” suspect? The one seen changing his shirt in the middle of a sidewalk? That, apparently, was just another guy on just another day in New York City, according to authorities.

Slate Magazine today considers three lessons from the incident, one is that terrorism manifests itself in criminal acts, and the acts are solved the old-fashioned way, treating it as crime, not war.

2) I’ve written a number of posts in recent weeks about court decisions protecting the right to free speech, even if it’s despicable speech. What about “speaking” (publishing) the names of dead soldiers? California’s Assembly has passed a bill making it illegal to print the names of fallen soldiers on T-shirts. It’s aimed at shirts like this, which is being sold by a Web site called Carry A Big Sticker.

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3) University of Minnesota Duluth officials have shut down a webcam that showed live images of the school’s library. The live stream was also being posted on the Web site of a gay sauna in Duluth. The connection is unclear.

Down in the city, the University of Minnesota Daily reports that the U is shifting away from full-time faculty and opting for non-tenured faculty who can be easily cut. The paper raises the possibility that the trend will result in less long-term research.

4) A study out today confirms what your father told you: TV is rotting your brain. The study of 1,300 children started when they were between 2 and 4. Researchers revisited them when they turned 10, and found they did worse in school and had more physical problems. One problem with the science: It isn’t science. There was no mechanism for an objective assessment of academic performance. The researchers asked the children’s teachers for the assessment.

5) It’s Ballpark Magic night at Target Field tonight, but you won’t find it on the promotional schedule. The blog that’s documented the construction of Target Field delivers one of the better lines we’ve heard in awhile: “You may also have noticed that ticket prices are climbing precipitously. I’m thinking that baseball outings this year will be about as spontaneous as mortgage refinancing — and have similar origination fees!”

In Philadelphia, there’s a brouhaha because a cop Tasered a kid who decided to run onto the field. Who hasn’t wanted to Taser those goofs?

Bonus: Timewaster

TODAY’S QUESTION

Legislators have unveiled a plan to use public money to pay two-thirds the cost of a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. Do you support the proposal for a new Vikings stadium?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: The Naked Economist explains why government needs “hacks” as much as “wonks,” why the economic turmoil in Greece matters to us, and what he makes of the latest economic numbers.

Second hour: Bruce Feiler was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 and dreaded the thought of his young daughters growing up without a father figure. So he reached out to six men in his life and asked them to play his role for the girls in all passages of their lives.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: The Independence Party candidates for governor. I may live-blog the hour.

Second hour: MPR President Bill Kling will be in the studio to answer listener questions about MPR.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Everyone has an opinion about Arizona’s stringent new immigration law. But on the border, it’s more than talk. It s daily life for folks like chili farmers who need workers to harvest their crop.

Second hour: The author of Wide Awake talks about her struggle for slumber.

  • bsimon

    “…while New York is the least “American” of U.S. cities…”

    Huh? By what criteria did Fallows come to this conclusion?

    On the topic, the answer to the question “Why do security officials always take it out on airline passengers?” is that airline passengers 1) demand it and 2) will put up with it. The response to the OK City bombing didn’t restrict use of rental trucks in cities, but did cause a change to the design of federal buildings (I recall some changes to the Fed Courthouse in Mpls, which was nearing construction at the time).