Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fleeting Impressions

I am on the way to the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, which is in New Orleans this year.  Yes, the conference starts the day after Mardi Gras, which is both boon and bane.  Boon because I get to arrive on Mardi Gras and get to experience the craziness.  Bane because it might mean that the cab will not be able to reach the hotel, so I might have hoof it for the last several blocks.

So, this is my first experience flying since the underwear bombing episode.  I was able to make it through security pretty quickly, but it is clear that things are amped up just a bit.  I have a strong feeling that this is all symbolic, to protect politicians' behinds, rather than actually make us safer.   As a recent piece (I forget where I saw it) reminded me, there were acts of airplane terrorism in the 1970s and 1980s that did not cripple us although  it did lead to metal detectors and all the rest.  I guess my take is that we should figure out what is sensible but not overreactive.  Risk analysts should be able to figure out the marginal utility of various protocols.  We can never reach zero risk and pretending to do so is deceptive and bad policy. 

Traveling does cause one to miss opportunities--not just missing Lost, but I just got invited to be appear on Al Jazeera (their English station) to talk about the offensive in Afghanistan, but had to decline since I will be presenting tomorrow morning, not to mention out of town.  However, having such an experience might have made my airport travel more complicated.  On the other hand, my old Afghanistan visa on my old passport never made much of a difference.

Anyhow, blogging may be light over the next several days as I schmooze with my fellow IR types.

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