Archive for December, 2010

The Danger Detector

There is research going on that claims the danger detector in the brain is the part called the amygdala. A woman who has a disease that has wiped out her amygdala claims she feels no fear, even when a man held a knife to her throat and said he would kill her. Of course, if she had normal reactions to fear generating situations, like being called over by a drugged up looking man in a park at night, she might not need to feel fear (or not) in the first place.

Fear is a healthy emotion as it keeps us wary and helps us avoid a lot of trouble and danger. There is a sensible reason why most people hate sharks, snakes, spiders and other dangerous creatures. The hate is the expression of the fear we experience because these creatures could, if they chose, harm us. Fear is a major part of why many of us are xenophobic or even racist. There was a time in history when it was not irrational to hate or be wary of someone because they looked different to you in their dress, skin tone and behaviour or language.

While today we need to update our emotions to better reflect the civilizing advances the world has enjoyed in recent generations, there are still many ways we can get hurt waiting to have their turn. No need to be paranoid, that is taking healthy fear too far. Just be aware and on guard and don’t go handling too many snakes or spiders.

A Fool And Her Money

A Western Australian woman who lost $600,000 to an online scammer has told how he wooed her and made her believe she would be starting a new, exciting life. She lost her home, her investment property, all her savings and her friends and family except for one of her two children who still talks to her. As sorry as I feel for her I have to ask how anyone could be so gullible as to ignore the warnings she says she heard in her head and still sent off hundreds of thousands of dollars to someone she had never met before.

You can blame the internet for many things and it does speed up the ‘falling in love’ process in some ways I guess. But please. How naive, read that stupid, must you be? They say Australians lose millions to these (often Nigerian) online scammers every year. How can that happen? How can someone supposedly smart enough to amass a small fortune be dumb enough to lose it like this?

I know they prey on vulnerable people but please, get a bleeding grip of yourself! Don’t make excuses for greed, laziness, apathy, arrogance, ignorance and lethargy. I can’t begin to fathom how anyone can be so loose with their wealth, they really don’t deserve to have it but of course they certainly don’t deserve to lose it to scammers.

Make no mistake the criminal is the scammer, not the sucker who gets scammed. We can all suffer a scam to a certain degree because they are expert at identifying our weaknesses and hot buttons. The simple solution is never send money to someone you have never met and never meet anyone who asks you for money online. Nigerian 419 scams are so well known today there is no excuse for not knowing about them. If you are reading this then you probably have an email account and have received these scam letters and can read all about them by doing a search or two.

Con artists work on your greed so if it seems too good to be true it is. Always, every time. I am saddened this woman has lost everything but I feel pity for her, not sympathy and certainly not empathy.

Another Win For Bin

Every time those over zealous airport security people upset another honest traveller, Osama Bin Laden and his terrorist minions win another little battle. This time, a woman in a wheel chair turned up in a trenchcoat with nothing on beneath that but her panties and bra! Way to go lady!

The reality is the terrorists no longer have to worry about risking resources hitting aircraft. The paranoia has been unleashed and the authorities are doing the terrorists job, in  the main, for them. A suicide bomber who made it to one of these internal security points and detonated there would likely kill as many as on the average 737. The security needs to be at the airport perimeter, BACKED UP with less invasive procedures at the inner rings such as before entry to the terminal, after check-in and so on.

America, of course, loves overkill and high technology. The American solution is to throw vast amounts of money at a problem and that means buy stuff. Buy equipment, buy lots of people to work it and buy lots of kit for people to wear as they wander around menacing anyone even thinking of thinking the word terrorist.

In Israel, all the real security is done before you get onto airport property. Cars are searched for explosives and IDs checked and all the other stuff gets done before you are within shrapnel range of the terminal. They learned their lesson way back in the early 1970s at Lod Airport when some Japanese communist terrorists did a favour for their Palestinian terrorist buddies as Japanese were less likely to be suspected by security forces than Semitic looking people were. They were right.

I presume this is why the US doesn’t rely on racial profiling and only stop and search dodgy looking types who look vaguely Mediterranean or Arabic. I recall guarding a Synagogue on Yom Kippur twenty years ago and from out of the park across the road ran two Arabic looking men, scruffy and wearing army surplus field jackets. I and my two team members were screening worshippers with our metal detector wands and had already disarmed the old jeweller of his ancient Browning .25 semi-auto (we  did him every year). As these two ran across teh six lanes of empty road infront of the Great Synagogue I thought it was on for sure. I radioed the team on the rear entrance to lock down and took a position behind a solid stone column, 9mm Browning out, cocked and safety off.

I ordered the two with the wands to spread out and be ready to take cover as the two men reached the kerb. They must have realised something was up as they stopped, raised their hands and called out first in Hebrew and then in English that they were Israelis. Turns out they were both officers in the IDF Reserves and in Sydney on vacation and wanted to come to the service for Yom Kippur. The Rabbi later commented how the scruffiest are always Israeli. I replied how Palestinian they looked to me and he agreed they did look like ‘the enemy’. “Your enemy, not mine Rabbi. I’m Australian” I replied. Last year I did that job, funnily enough.

Point is, you can’t tell what a terrorist will look like and they are not above using other ethnic groups to deceive and get in close. You need to keep the trouble well away from where it will do the most harm and that often means security is hardly noticed. Which is the way it should be but when you want to build an empire or justify a budget, not the best course of action and it all gets back to money in the end. Doesn’t it?

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