Comments

  1. says

    In other words, some of what’s already happening in various ways in religion and irreligion should happen.

    Except, what does this tell us about the religions that refuse to change, or people who come up with a new set of lies to screw up the gullible (Tom Cruise being the latter)?

    The fact is that it sounds like a bunch of platitudes, that we should be really good and smart, and if we do that religion will be all right. Which for my part (but not everyones’) is not in question. Probably most who want to get rid of religion don’t particularly mind attenuating it down to nothing, where that can happen.

    I can’t see that there’s any real message in Rue’s remarks beyond the foregoing, just keep on ridiculing the worst of religion, with a tolerance that borders on contempt (well, if you must add in the claptrap…. Though if the religionists don’t bother me, I don’t say that) for the kind that at least saves people from fundamentalism. ‘K, but that’s being said all over the web already.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  2. Barks says

    Reading Ladens blog it suddenly struck me that you represent the Twin Cities, so I felt I
    had to share my anecdote. Flying in from Sweden as a guest of the IMA (Institute
    of Mathematics and its Applications) I was questioned at you eminent airport as to the objective of my visit. My reply-to do research-prompted the reply “and who will
    own the result of your research, Sir?” (I cannot fault the politeness of your
    government officials).

    When I hesitated, not really understanding the question, I was told to
    “please step aside Sir” and led to an adjacent room in which I was
    forced to explain myself to a senior officer.
    This was well before 9/11 but I took the decision then and there never to return.
    Am I wrong? Will things really change if we all elect not to come to the US? Or am I just being childish?

  3. says

    I’d just like to add one more thing.

    With the rapid rise in the numbers who claim in polls to be irreligious, secularism ought not to be counted out as part of the solution to stupid religion.

    Almost certainly it’s partly due to the end of the cold war, since “godless communism” was how the USSR was often characterized, while the lack of religious freedom there was also often mentioned.

    But almost all persecution involving religion today comes from, yes, the religious, and people are reacting now against that long-traditional source of anti-freedom, even as others (Ben Stein) embrace it for that very reason.

    So fine, religion’s not going away, as even Hitchens notes. However, the boring mainline religions have never attracted many people to whom religion did matter, and indeed, I believe that most people who wake up to the ills of fundamentalism tend to go secular.

    Rue’s way is not going to do much to improve the situation, especially since it’s been tried and is being tried, without huge improvement from that angle in recent decades. The improvements are going to come mainly from the secular portion, because we are the ones who can take religion to task, illuminate its foolishness, and cause some actual change.

    Leave the halfway houses of liberal religion for those who can’t give up religion totally, of course, but neither build them nor praise them.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  4. Dianne says

    Am I wrong? Will things really change if we all elect not to come to the US? Or am I just being childish?

    The answers are no, maybe, and no. You aren’t wrong and you aren’t being childish. I’d be insulted and rather frightened if I got treated like that when visiting a foreign country and certainly unwilling to return. (The only one I’ve visited for professional reasons so far is Germany and I have to say that despite some reputation for Auslanderfiendlicheit, I’ve never had the slightest trouble with their immigration people. In fact, I’ve found them helpful.) There is simply no reason for you to have to put up with that sort of crap and the only way that things are going to change is if people don’t put up with it. I don’t know if academics have enough power in American politics to change the way the INS (now Homeland security, thank you Mr. Orwell) acts, but it certainly won’t change if everyone just smiles and puts up with it.

  5. Karey says

    Getting extra questioning from dumb people who don’t understand much about research, and then making it out like it was a cavity search, does seem a little childish to me.

  6. bernarda says

    Barks, you are probably right in your decision. I am an American citizen and the last time I went to the U.S. about 10 years ago some dumbass immigration agent asked me where I would be staying when I arrived in NY City. I told her that I would go into town and find a hotel. That was enough for her to have me sent aside for further questioning. Apparently I should have booked ahead with a travel agency in her eyes.

    As a citizen, before 911, that bitch didn’t have any business to ask me about my plans. All I had was a backpack as luggage, so I guess that was suspicious too, though I have often traveled lightly. Frankly, the only time I found immigration officials as disgusting as American ones was when I visited East Berlin before the fall of the wall.

    I have read that some American international corporations are now organizing their meetings in Canada or other countries to avoid hassle for their foreign employees. It doesn’t surprise me.

  7. Neal Norton says

    Sounds like an awful experience, Mr. Barks. You were actually questioned by an immigrations official? They lead you into a room? You were questioned? Man, thats terrible!

  8. Barklikeadog says

    We could just dump the whole idea and be converts to the Church of the Right Shoulder.

    As usual I was duped. I thought it was a joke at first but…. as you can see. His logic is impeccable. Parrots aren’t mentioned in the bible which means they were so common they weren’t worth mentioning.

    Good Dog I thought the Mormons were crackpots but this takes the bone.

  9. says

    I’d be insulted and rather frightened if I got treated like that when visiting a foreign country and certainly unwilling to return. (The only one I’ve visited for professional reasons so far is Germany and I have to say that despite some reputation for Auslanderfiendlicheit, I’ve never had the slightest trouble with their immigration people. In fact, I’ve found them helpful.)

    Heh–I’d agree for the most part, but I did find some region-specific selectivity. Returning to the Frankfort airport after traveling around the Mediterranean, I got the following:

    (Politely:) “So where did you travel, Ms. thalarctos?”

    “I was in Italy, for one thing.”

    (Looking like he’s going to just wave me through the gate, still politely:) “And did you travel anywhere else?”

    “Yes, Malta.”

    (Still looking like he’s just going to wave me through the gate, politely:) “And did you travel anywhere else?”

    “Yes, I visited friends in Israel.”

    (Still politely:) “Would you please enter the booth with Ms. Security Guard here?” (snap of rubber gloves–well not really, I made that part up.)

  10. Feyn says

    Getting extra questioning from dumb people who don’t understand much about research, and then making it out like it was a cavity search, does seem a little childish to me.

    Even more off-topic:

    I don’t think that this was the point. Being pulled aside is enough to make anyone think twice about re-visiting the country, from the point of view of the party on the receiving end of any kind of ‘special interest’ at customs. So, no I don’t think that Barks personal experience is lessened by the fact that it was so minor. He (presumably) has never gone through this before, and it seems a justifiable case of ‘once bitten, twice shy’.

    It’s precisely this kind of behaviour that makes several people I know plan their trips (from New Zealand to Europe) so they completely avoid the US. Others go so far as to say that they will never go there, as long as the present state of national paranoia exists. I say this simply because Barks is not alone in his view.

    Note that I am not advocating a reduction in security, just an adjustment in attitude on the part of customs officials. Remember that these people will, for many, form the first impression of your country. And first impressions are the most important. Of course, whether any change is possible or not is another thing entirely.

  11. Dianne says

    thalarctos: I may not be the best person to evaluate whether immigration is friendly in a given country or not. There’s something about me that makes me the ultimate unsuspicious person, particularly in Europe. The people at Frankfurt don’t even ask me where I’ve travelled. Once I travelled by overnight train from Heidelberg to Prague (back in the 1990s before the Czech Republic joined the EU). The border crossing occurred at something like midnight so everyone was in bed. The border guard came in and carefully made everyone else get out of bed and get their passports then looked at me, shrugged, and left without checking mine. I have no good explanation for this, but it does make travel more convenient.

  12. Dianne says

    As long as we’re on the off topic, when I am asked by friends or colleagues in other countries about visiting the US I generally recommend that they wait until 2009 and reevaluate the situation, but certainly not come now. I’ve heard enough horror stories (including some involving detention for minor or non-existent offenses) to not feel comfortable recommending that foreign academics visit the US right now.

  13. CrypticLife says

    Barks,

    Actually, you’re not being coherent at all. What sort of change were you hoping for? Not even polite questioning of foreign visitors? Maybe get rid of any kind of forms or processing, and any other checks as well? I’m sure they don’t have any of that in Sweden.

    But maybe I don’t understand the facts. It’s that you were strapped down in the adjacent room, or subjected to bright lights and shouting officials. Or kept there for a day, and sleep deprived?

  14. says

    It’s precisely this kind of behaviour that makes several people I know plan their trips (from New Zealand to Europe) so they completely avoid the US. Others go so far as to say that they will never go there, as long as the present state of national paranoia exists. I say this simply because Barks is not alone in his view.

    It totally killed the WOMAD (World of Music, Arts, and Dance) Festival in the US–security officials made it such a hassle for musicians of color from the developing world to get a visa, and they hassled them so much in Customs when the musicians *did* get visas, that the organizers finally yanked WOMAD from the US. Now you have to go elsewhere in the world to see the festival that American security paranoia killed here.

    When Singapore (aka “Disneyland with the death penalty”) thinks they’re not a security risk, then shutting them out is gratuitously and over-the-top paranoid, but there it is.

    Note that I am not advocating a reduction in security, just an adjustment in attitude on the part of customs officials. Remember that these people will, for many, form the first impression of your country. And first impressions are the most important. Of course, whether any change is possible or not is another thing entirely.

    Yeah, I doubt that–in Frankfurt (not Frankfort, as I misspelled it above, having spent time in Kentucky lately), when the first Mr. thalarctos and I went to the American Embassy to get his visa to the US as my husband, the conversation went downhill quickly: I explained that I was a US student at a German university, and I was there to get a marriage visa for my also-a-student Iranian husband. The clerk addressed the former Mr. thalarctos in English, and I explained that he didn’t speak English. I was about to add, “so I’ll interpret into German for you if you like”, but the clerk jumped on me like he’d caught us in his clever trap.

    “So how do you communicate then?!” he exclaimed, and you could see he was just choking back the term “fraudulent marriage” until he could safely deploy it. In our common language of German, I explained–clearly quite the concept to this guy who lived in Germany, represented the US abroad, yet clearly never had had it occur to him to actually, you know, *learn* the language around him. Ironically, the worst official Ausl√§nderfeindlichkeit I experienced in Germany was at the American Embassy.

    I hope it is not the case, but I fear that the right-wing is so married to this “We’re America dammit!” attitude, that they’ll let things like WOMAD and biotech slip away, and they’ll neither notice nor care. They’d really rather ride it down to the final crash than change course. I’d like to be wrong about that, though.

  15. says

    I have no good explanation for this, but it does make travel more convenient.

    Oh, I have a hypothesis; whether or not it’s truly the cause, I couldn’t say. But it certainly seems to hold up under repeated testing.

    When my Seattle-based Cambodian friends go to Vancouver without me to eat imported fruits that Washington’s apple maggot regulations won’t let them bring into to state, they–without exception–get their van searched when re-entering the US.

    When they invite me (female Caucasian), and just happen to kindly let me do the driving in their van, we never, ever, ever get selected for a search at the border. “Certainly, ma’am; have a nice day!” Funny, that…

    Actually, I have no doubt that if I hadn’t mentioned Israel (= “drugs”) to German customs that time, they would have waved me right through the gates as they were going to do at the mention of Italy. White females just aren’t on their radar as suspicious.

    It’s kind of the mirror image of “driving while black” in rich neighborhoods.

  16. Barklikeadog says

    Sorry about the last comment I made, It was off topic & it seems I was duped. I feel stoopid now. I’m not sure if it is really legit. Anyone know? The link says Parottdy so yes it probably is a joke.

  17. Dave says

    White females just aren’t on their radar as suspicious.

    I dont know about that. I think it depends on the location. I have several times seen white women of my acquaintance attract the attention of customs officials. Primarily while traveling to Latin America, but I have also heard, although not witnessed, reports from Ozzie female friends of having problems coming into the US via LAX.

    #8 – Not having a fixed location to stay has always been a red flag for immigration officials, and not just in the US. I recieved extra attention entering Britain when going to stay with friends, since I didnt know their address. (I was to call them when I got into London.) Polite attention, but attention none the less.

    While I grant that being questioned by Customs/Immigration officials can be an intimidating experience, it seems unreasonable to expect that they will be clairvoiant and only question those up to no good.

  18. windy says

    security officials made it such a hassle for musicians of color from the developing world to get a visa, and they hassled them so much in Customs when the musicians *did* get visas

    Apparently not only musicians of colour…

    Finnish folk band find a rude airport welcome

    Perhaps the most damning comment on the incident was delivered by [J. Karjalainen] who was strip-searched. On a couple of occasions prior to 1991, he was detained by the KGB and interrogated. Compared to the ICE agents here in the Twin Cities, the KGB operatives, he says, “at least acted like human beings. Not a bunch of animals.”

  19. says

    Apparently not only musicians of colour…Finnish folk band find a rude airport welcome

    Asswipes. I wonder if people who arrogantly drive away interaction with the rest of the world, like this example, ever realize what they cost us?

    I doubt it, when it just embodies a micro reflection of macro policy. I can see a scenario in which China, Japan, and Europe irretrievably overtake us economically and in influence (what’s the euro exchange rate today, by the way?), and they never figure out how it happened. All America’s got is its wealth and its reputation, and this administration and its Congressional enablers seem bent on squandering both. These little coups de grace to our reputation by petty bureaucrats are just reflections of current US policy at large, and so it’s easy for them to make excuses for themselves. I doubt history will look kindly on it, however.

    On a related note, I’m having some profound conversations about emigration with friends who are Native American. I’m willing to take my language skills and my scientific training to Europe or Asia if the continuing political and economic degeneration here makes it necessary in order to maintain a reasonable quality of life wrt stability and prosperity. Some of my friends, on the other hand, feel a connection to this land that they can’t imagine breaking, no matter how bad the situation becomes for them personally. It’s been very enlightening to explore our different attitudes on this issue.

  20. Dianne says

    Apparently not only musicians of colour…Finnish folk band find a rude airport welcome

    Well, if one really needs to find a silver lining, I suppose it is good that they aren’t racial profiling but are being jerks to everyone.

    It’s kind of the mirror image of “driving while black” in rich neighborhoods.

    I’m sure that’s a part of it: I’m light skinned and blue eyed so people take me for “white” (although my actual ethnic origin could be the subject of some controversy if anyone gave a rat’s ass). However, I get not noticed even in situations where other white women are getting questioned seriously. I suspect that I simply exude “harmless” to the average authority figure.

    To the people asking why Barks was so upset, I can’t answer for barks, but I would be pretty upset by that question because it was totally inappropriate. It is none of the INS’s business who owns the results of a given researcher’s research. If the IMA and Barks were happy with whatever arrangement was then everyone else can STFU about it, even if the arrangement was that all results would become the secret property of the Swedish government. And to me it’s an obnoxiously invasive question, almost as though they’d ask how many sexual partners he’d had or whether he watched porn or something similar: an abuse of authority to satisfy curiosity. Setting the bar for taking offense at being waterboarded or sleep deprived seems excessive to me.

  21. says

    I suspect that I simply exude “harmless” to the average authority figure.

    LOL–I think you’re onto something, though I’m not sure what. If it were just unqualified white privilege, you’d think Mr. thalarctos and I would benefit equally. But he’s always attracting attention where I’m not, and also where other white males aren’t. We’ve decided that I just “act innocent”, while he “acts guilty”. Not sure exactly what those terms mean, though, just that it seems to reliably describe what outcomes result.

  22. says

    To the people asking why Barks was so upset, I can’t answer for barks, but I would be pretty upset by that question because it was totally inappropriate. It is none of the INS’s business who owns the results of a given researcher’s research. If the IMA and Barks were happy with whatever arrangement was then everyone else can STFU about it, even if the arrangement was that all results would become the secret property of the Swedish government. And to me it’s an obnoxiously invasive question, almost as though they’d ask how many sexual partners he’d had or whether he watched porn or something similar: an abuse of authority to satisfy curiosity. Setting the bar for taking offense at being waterboarded or sleep deprived seems excessive to me.

    Absolutely–I couldn’t have said it any better than you did. If there’s a demonstrated connection between his answer and terrorism, let’s see the evidence for that connection. Otherwise, it’s just an abuse of authority, no matter how much the apologists here mock anyone for calling it out.

  23. Dave says

    To the people asking why Barks was so upset, I can’t answer for barks, but I would be pretty upset by that question because it was totally inappropriate. It is none of the INS’s business who owns the results of a given researcher’s research.

    No its not any of their business, but they are supposed to ask questions that are none of their business in an attempt to trip you up. I have several friends who work for investment banks. Whenever they travel on business the conversation goes, “What is the purpose of your visit?” “Business meetings.” “What do you do?” “Im an investment banker.” “Can you give me a stock tip?” These friends are not in equity research, they dont pick stocks. When they have tried to explain this, they get a whole bunch of extra questions. If they simply respond with a stock name, thats the end of the questioning. This happens both going abroad and returning to the US. Regular bankers get asked about interest rates. The agent has no interest in the answer, only that you are not thrown by the question. In Barks case, he hesitated, which made them think they had tripped him up.

  24. says

    The agent has no interest in the answer, only that you are not thrown by the question. In Barks case, he hesitated, which made them think they had tripped him up.

    If all you want is a positive, a false positive is as good as a true one, I guess. But that doesn’t translate into real security, just the appearance of it.

  25. Karey says

    It really isn’t that personal a question. Its a question of the business he was up to in the states and property. If you can’t handle questions like that, how do you handle them looking inside your bag at all your belongings without feeling too personally offended to travel again. Entering a foreign country is no small thing, as uninhibited as entering the grocery store. Customs is an agency handling whether to grant admittance or not.

    Now I happen to fly to London a lot and go through Minneapolis customs on my way back every time, and I can assure Mr. Barks that the security level is still something he’d be too uncomfortable with. The poky questions I get asked at the UK customs are at the same level too, regarding what I’m doing there and where I’m staying, so he probably shouldn’t travel there either.

  26. CanadianChick says

    Dave, if that’s what they’re attempting to do, they’re doing a piss poor job of it…

    I live in a canadian border city – I drive to the US frequently to visit friends or to shop. I’m in my late 30s, overweight, blonde, green-eyed and I drive a Saturn sedan.

    I’m constantly amazed by the stupid and intrusive questions they ask…where did I meet these “friends”. What kind of shopping am I doing. What do I do for a living that I can take a off to go shopping.

    The time I had to drive to Portland for a funeral I thought for sure they were going to haul me off to an interrogation room, as I’d been down in the US not 10 days earlier, which they found very suspicious.

    My husband refuses to enter the US now.

  27. Dianne says

    Dave: I think you basically just proved that it’s a lousy screening method. All it takes to fool the agent is a ready ability to lie. Stock tip? No one ever went broke investing in IBM. What are you shopping for? Wine. Canadian wine is terrible. Who owns the results of your research? The university. It took me longer to think of (find) these questions than it did to think up the answers–and I know nothing about investment banking, west coast shopping, or intellectual property rights. On the other hand, I’d probably hesitate before answering any genuine question about my work because it’s always going to be complicated to try to explain to someone not in the same sub-sub-sub-specialty as me.

    As thalarctos pointed out, it probably just builds a false sense of security. I’d like to see some evidence that they get enough “true positives” to justify the inconvenience caused to the “false positives”. Or at least some evidence that any undesirable person (drug dealer, terrorist, Dick Cheney, etc) ever has been caught in this way.

  28. says

    We’ve decided that I just “act innocent”, while he “acts guilty”. Not sure exactly what those terms mean, though, just that it seems to reliably describe what outcomes result.
    FWIW, I’m a quote unquote ‘functioning autistic’ which means that I don’t instinctively recognize body language- nor do I normally display the body language that most people expect in a given situation. I suspect that this may have whole lot to do with the fact that I rarely get to board a plane at SEATAC or cross into B.C. without getting the ‘special’ treatment. (Admittedly, the one time that I was actually detained long enough to have my truck thoroughly searched, it was my own fault. Take it from me, don’t *ever* tell a humorless border guard that you’re from the U.S of ‘eh?)

  29. says

    The poky questions I get asked at the UK customs are at the same level too, regarding what I’m doing there and where I’m staying, so he probably shouldn’t travel there either.

    Shit, I got some intense questioning when I flew to Vancouver for my aunts’ wedding. I didn’t even know what hotel I was staying at because my aunts had arranged it (well, my biological aunt’s partner, who’s a bit of a control freak). Didn’t particularly seem to be happy with me entering the country for a wedding, but waived me through.

    And here I thought Canadians were friendly. Well, the waitstaff at the restaurant was fantastic, including giving my aunts a wedding gift.

    Customs sucks everywhere…..

  30. speedwell says

    I have read that some American international corporations are now organizing their meetings in Canada or other countries to avoid hassle for their foreign employees.

    This is true. I work for a major multinational firm that has its headquarters in the US. My team is training shortly and my boss, who lives in the UK and loves to come here on trips (or used to), is disgusted by the hassle that out programmer from Shanghai is going through. So we are all going to meet in Scotland for our training.

    I hear this over and over from various managers in our company and from other managers in other companies. I even heard it from a table of complete strangers sitting next to me at lunch today.

  31. autumn says

    At this point, I hate to comment on the actual topic of the post, but I’ve been thinking this for a while, so here goes.
    Morality (hard to pin down, but we all know it when we see it) exists well before any sort of religious explanations of why it is the right thing to be doing. I’ve thought for a long time that the primary purpose of religious feelings is their ability to excuse the times that morality is ignored.
    My kids don’t think that hitting each other is bad because it is sinful, even though two of the three are stepsons whose father is raising them as Pentacostal Christians, but because by about five years old they had absorbed enough to simply know that some things society will not accept.
    Religion seem to me to step in and assert first, that it made up the morality, and second, here’s all of the situations in which you may ignore your morality, i.e., they don’t believe correctly, they dress funny, their penises go funny places. . .
    Oh, the only thing body cavity searches find out is that about ten percent of the gents seem to not mind!
    (apologies to Kids In The Hall)

  32. JohnnieCanuck, FCD says

    What you all seem to have missed is the immigration part of the agent’s job. As a simplification, nobody gets to come into a country like the US and do work, not without a green card.

    The details of who gets the value of his research and who is paying him are quite relevant to this aspect of his screening. Per his anecdote, he could have been a commercial researcher. I have no idea if special rules are in place for people, like academic researchers. Musicians and other artists used to get the gears for this, all the time.

  33. Venger says

    I can recall Richard Dawkins talking at the first Beyond Belief, he described what he called the “shifting moral zeitgeist”. The idea that societal interactions create modern moral values more or less without conscious directed effort. New ideas ripple through society changing the perspective of the members and reinforcing moral values. Be interesting to see how it actually works.

    But I’ve been wondering about what else we decide as a society. My roommate is nuts about home decorating shows and watches them all the time, and I found myself wondering how do we all know a room is dated, that the style of specific period is out now. Or how about fashion, how do we all know when something is just no longer acceptable like white gloves or those big shouldered outfits women were wearing in the 80’s? We just know, somehow as a group we change views on somethings in a roughly similar way across society. And it has nothing to do with religion, because it doesn’t seem to matter who is part of society and covers all kinds of non-religious topics, we all get affected to some degree whether we know it or not. How has moderate religious faith spread across such a large portion of the population? The churches probably aren’t encouraging it, but the idea seems fairly consistent across moderates.

    Humans are very interesting monkeys indeed.

  34. Venger says

    On the Customs issue, I hold a dual citizenship, for Canada and the UK. I used to travel on a British passport and going into the UK used to more or less get to skip customs entirely. But I always had trouble coming back into Canada since passports never mention that pesky dual citizenship, not even between Commonwealth nations. And I can’t imagine what coming to the US would have been like since I rarely flew in before 9/11, my parents got turned back because they couldn’t convince the border agents they lived in Canada once. My passport eventually expired and I needed a new one rapidly so I now have a Canadian passport, I have less trouble with Canada and the US, but mostly because I also have a valid T-N work visa for the US. But getting that can be a pain. As a result I usually have more issues with Canadian Customs.

    In the past I have had issues, I’ve been asked how I knew the people I was visiting. I was asked once if I planned to marry the girlfriend I was visiting. But the most fun was before a road trip across the US, I was asked where I worked and explained I was between jobs and traveling before I started school in the fall. They asked where I had worked and I mentioned I used to work at the Pickering Nuclear Power Station in Ontario. Wow you should have seen the reaction, there I was a 26 year old white male, with the appropriate papers, in a lightly loaded Pontiac Grand Prix and the officer immediately ordered me out of the car, called over another officer over who proceeded to watch me with his hand on his gun, instructions were yelled at me, people got very tense if I moved, they search my car, I can only assume for the butt load of illegal plutonium they expected to find for about 45 minutes, they found nothing and eventually let me go after getting pretty much all the personal data there was to get.

    Morons. No one smuggles plutonium from Canada to the US, instead people come buy reactors off us and make their own. They don’t fit in the trunk of the average car so there was never a need to search.

  35. bernarda says

    – JohnnieCanuck, above I gave an account of one of my encounters with an immigration official, and I am a natural-born citizen of the U.S. I can go and work there as I like and it is none of the official’s business where I am staying or how long I am staying.

    – Sycanman, #31, I had a similar experience one time. A friend of mine and I were traveling around the northern U.S. and then Canada in a van outfitted for camping. We had spent a couple of weeks in Canada camping out and on return were detained. The customs officials basically spent a half a day taking the van apart.

    There were four or five tax-paid guys wasting all this time probably looking for drugs, which neither of us use. Even if there had been some, it was still a waste of taxpayers’ money and more of a waste of their time than ours. Anyway, we had California plates so they should have maybe thought that we could get what we want there rather easily rather than risk a border-crossing.

    BTW, we are both lily-white so it probably wasn’t racial profiling.

    Another funny thing about it was that I used to regularly drive into Mexico to go camping and was never taken aside by agents on return at that border, a point I mentioned to one of the agents as we put our stuff back in order.

    – I would like to see a video of what sort of training these immigration officers get. From my and other peoples’ experiences, it seems to be very deficient, unless it is done deliberately.

  36. Alex Besogonov says

    Entering a foreign country is no small thing, as uninhibited as entering the grocery store. Customs is an agency handling whether to grant admittance or not.

    But WHY entering a country is such a big deal?

    Citizens of most of countries need a visa to entry the USA, so they ALREADY got questioned at an embassy/consulate during visa application.

    And most probably you don’t really want to stay in the US if you come from a country without visa requirement.

    I live in Ukraine (and Russia) and I travel to Europe fairly often. I can’t remember being asked more than some trivial details (the purpose of a visit, the name of a conference, etc.)

    The poky questions I get asked at the UK customs are at the same level too, regarding what I’m doing there and where I’m staying, so he probably shouldn’t travel there either.
    Yes, probably.

  37. Gingerbaker says

    Man, if I ever got pulled into “The Room” for questioning, I would be pretty anxious.

    I’ll bet that room has another doorway in it, a doorway that leads to Gitmo or worse.

    We know about Jose Padilla. My worry is about how many Americans have been “disappeared” that we don’t know about.

  38. truth machine says

    There is nothing intelligent that I could add so I won’t.

    Given how numbingly stupid and ignorant his “wise” words are, that doesn’t speak well for you.

  39. truth machine says

    Getting extra questioning from dumb people who don’t understand much about research, and then making it out like it was a cavity search, does seem a little childish to me.

    Barks’ difficulty in determining whether the Parrotdy vidio is a parody suggests more severe problems than just childishness. And then nearly 40 posts on this ridiculous OT diversion …

  40. shane says

    As an Australian who has travelled OS quite a bit I’ve found our dear old Aussie border control to be the rudest and most obnoxious I’ve come across. Not all but it seems to be every other agent is a grump. We also have to fill in a customs form on entry and state the address to which we’re going. “Home” doesn’t cut it. They also expect a contact phone no. or email.

    At least we’re not fingerprinted and photographed on entry like your USofA. I’d like to get to North America, or the other America(*) as I like to call it, at some point but I believe you still get fingerprinted and photographed even if you’re transitting through to Canada or Mexico.

    European customs barely even open my passport for a cursory check usually and I’ve seen acts of unusual kindness or friendlyness, for customs people, in places like Dubai, Africa and South America.

    (*)When I’ve met yanks overseas and they’ve said that they’re from America I always ask which one.