Sunday, December 27, 2009

I Will Never Fly Again

Oh, sure, terrorists scare me to pieces. From Nate Silver, we have some stats showing how scared we should be:
Over the past decade, according to BTS, there have been 99,320,309 commercial airline departures that either originated or landed within the United States. Dividing by six, we get one terrorist incident per 16,553,385 departures.

These departures flew a collective 69,415,786,000 miles. That means there has been one terrorist incident per 11,569,297,667 mles flown. This distance is equivalent to 1,459,664 trips around the diameter of the Earth, 24,218 round trips to the Moon, or two round trips to Neptune.

Assuming an average airborne speed of 425 miles per hour, these airplanes were aloft for a total of 163,331,261 hours. Therefore, there has been one terrorist incident per 27,221,877 hours airborne. This can also be expressed as one incident per 1,134,245 days airborne, or one incident per 3,105 years airborne.

There were a total of 674 passengers, not counting crew or the terrorists themselves, on the flights on which these incidents occurred. By contrast, there have been 7,015,630,000 passenger enplanements over the past decade. Therefore, the odds of being on given departure which is the subject of a terrorist incident have been 1 in 10,408,947 over the past decade. By contrast, the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are about 1 in 500,000. This means that you could board 20 flights per year and still be less likely to be the subject of an attempted terrorist attack than to be struck by lightning.
On the other hand, what are the odds that the insecure folks at Homeland Security are going to make you so miserable you wish you could explode just to spite them? I guess you can't have a probability higher than 100%, but they're working on it over there.
For the last hour of the flight, you now have to sit in your seat with your hands folded in your lap. No food, no computer, no nothing. And if you think you might have to use the bathroom, expect to be arrested and charged with failure to obey a cabin Nazi, or some other felony beef, so you might as well wear one of those homicidal-astronaut diapers.
This is gonna work real well with kids. And elderly. And many with health problems. I've read elsewhere that EB Misfit's "no nothing" includes books and magazines. As she points out in a later post,
The purpose of terrorism is to terrorize. So what has the Underwear Bomber managed to do?

Think of the sheer stupidity of "Sit In Your Seats With Your Laps Empty For the Last Hour of the Flight (Or the Air Marshal Will Shoot You in the Head)" rule. What is so magical about the last hour of the flight? Anyone who smuggled a bomb or an Insane Chemist Bomb-Making Kit(tm) on board could try to blow the thing up at any point of the flight. (Don't expect the DBP to figure that one out, by the way.)
All of this without doing much more than scorching the terrorist. I'd rate the attack as "very successful".
Yes, as Silver points out, flying has become such a dangerous, terrorism-vulnerable undertaking, that we should all just stay on the ground.

Fine. I'm there.

Followup, 3:50 PM: Oh, joy. Here's a big surprise.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, an Independent who aligns with the Democrats, has promised hearings when Congress returns for its break.
(CS Monitor) I'm sure Traitor Joe is all over making sure people are safe and healthy. This isn't about him, nosirree.

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