Wacky security questions

Filed under: travel — jlm @ 13:18

While I privately celebrate Independence Day, let me reminisce on a small, but odd, part of my recent trip to the mother country we independenced from. For a round-trip international flight, you’re questioned by security agents four times: by the TSA before leaving the country, by ICE upon your return, and by their equivalents in the foreign country upon arrival and departure there. The TSA screening was very routine, but the British immigration/customs officer had this weird thing where he’d repeat all my answers back with a really skeptical tone.

“Where are you going from here?”
“I’ll be staying here in London for the next five days.”
“You’re lodging in London?”
“Why are you coming here?”
“Primarily to visit my family.”
“You’re visiting family, who live in London?”
“And when are you leaving?”
“I fly back home on July 1st.”
“You’re flying back to the US on the 1st of July?”
“And how are you getting to London?”
“I bought a ticket for a National Express bus.” [The “Tube” was shut down due to a workers strike.]
“You’re taking a National Express bus to London?”
“Uh huh.”
[Dropping the skeptical act] “Very good, welcome to the UK.”

Maybe the idea is somebody fabricating their answers will feel a need to elaborate instead of simply confirming? Whatever. The odder bit was the trip back, where each security officer asked me a strange question.

“Where is your journey starting from?”
“Uh, what?”
“Where is your flight leaving?”
[Borrowing the tone of his countryman] “You want to know the airport my flight departs from?”
“From this airport, London Heathrow.”
“Very good.”

And then, from ICE:

“What’s in London?”
“Uh, what?”
“You said you flew in from London, what’s there?”
“Well, there are a lot of things in London: Parliament, and a stretch of the River Thames, and several bridges over the river, and millions of people, one of whom is a first cousin, and his wife, and —” [at this point, the agent cuts me off, and I don’t even get a “very good”. I guess that’s a British thing.]


Why cubie orientations are preserved

Filed under: math — jlm @ 10:59

A while ago in “Rotating only one cubie”, I said there was “extra structure” to the Rubik’s Cube’s moves that preserves the sum-total of all corner cubie orientations, and of all edge cubie orientations, but didn’t preserve the sum-total of center cubie orientations. I didn’t get into that then, because it’s hard to describe, and why they’re preserved wasn’t the point of that post. But I did make a note to get to it later, as I wasn’t aware of any good explanations of it that I could link to, and it’s high time for that “later” to become “now”.

The dynamics of the corner and edge cubies are pretty different in this regard, which is probably expected by everybody who’s played around with the Rubik’s Cube that much — edge and corner cubies have very distinct characters in general. As is usual with the Rubik’s Cube, the corner cubies are easier to think about. (I think this is mostly because there are only 8 of them, while there are 12 edge cubies.) So, let’s do them first.



The quick diplomatic solution

Filed under: humor — jlm @ 21:11

A Mos-Ukr
A Sev S A Mos-Ukr
A Ukr Holds
A War S A Ukr
A Gal S A Ukr
A Rum S A Ukr

As long as I’m being silly here, note that Ukraine must not attack, as it’d lose the support necessary to hold off Moscow’s attack, and that even if Moscow convinced one of the regions supporting Ukraine to switch to supporting their attack, it’d still fail to overcome the Ukrainian defense.


Can’t stop the Omicron

Filed under: covid, news — jlm @ 10:43

Brussels Times: Belgian scientific base in Antarctica engulfed by Covid-19 despite strict measures

• All personnel fully vaccinated? Check. ☑
• Frequent testing? Check. ☑
• Quarantined over the incubation period? Check. ☑
• Covid-19 outbreak anyway? Check. ☹

We can’t stop this.

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