Not fitting in, and Via Rail

This is, once again, a light editing of some things I said privately on IRC. This time they're fairly recent.

And, once again, there's strong language here. Not a lot, but, if that bothers you, you might want to skip this post.


I started by saying I was annoyed. The other person asked why.

"One of my machines in Montreal has apparently decided to fall over. And I've just seen indications that Via is going to be bringing in security theatre too, meaning there are now NO public intercity transports, as far as I can tell, that don't suffer from that."

"Security theatre as in, routinely searching all carryon baggage and, who knows, maybe patdowns too."

"This, apparently, in reaction to a supposed plot to derail a train, which, as far as I can tell, such "security" would not have affected at all. (Since IIRC the plot was to do something to the tracks, not something involving actually riding the train.)"

"I am beginning to feel as though it's time to call up the people to whom I owe such calls and tell them, remind me, please, why suicide is an inappropriate response to fitting catastrophically badly into the society around me...."

(The other person replies) "That's not the best response to that sort of thing. Your presence would be missed. And society needs people who can stand up and push for some changes."

"My presence would be missed, perhaps, but to what extent can I let others' wanting me around keep me sticking around being miserable? And I can't stand up and push for changes. I did that, for a decade. In my own field, even. And I made, as far as I can tell, exactly zero difference." (What I was talking about here is partially sketched in my post of 2010-08-03. I also did active antispamming, as in reporting abuses, which, again, as far as I can tell had zero effect.)

"I am not a crusader. I do not have the quixotic temperment that can tilt at windmills and not get depressed at a total lack of results. I'm not even sure I think this needs to be changed. I'm (small-l) libertarian enough that I think any carrier can do this sort of stupidity if they want. What I find depressing is not that carrier X or Y is doing it, but that fucking EVERYBODY is doing it. And, perhaps even more depressing, the public is rolling over for it."

"Even if there were terrorists behind it, when we react with fear, they win, even if their bombs don't go off—even if their bombs don't exist."

"...and nobody seems to recognize that."

"We—meaning North America—are destroying our way of life more effectively and more surely than any terrorist group or groups possibly could."


After this, I phoned Via's customer-comments number. The person I spoke with said Via hadn't actually brought in such pseudo-security; they were merely "considering" it. I spoke against it about as strongly as I felt I could; I have no idea whether it will have any good effect, but I do have a nasty feeling that I'd better get any Via rides I want to get done done soon.


Also relevant to Via, though older, is the latest change they made to their on-train wifi support.

Since they introduced it, they have intermittently, and without notice, changed the hoop-jumping necessary to get access. Until the latest change, I've been able to keep up, adjusting my scripts to jump thorugh the new hoops.

But the latest change has pushed the details of the hoop-jumping into big blobs of Javascript, making it much harder for me to figure out what I have to do.

I found that UDP port 53 was open (though not TCP port 53; I'm not sure what people are supposed to do when a response is too large for a UDP DNS packet). I tried doing my IP-over-UDP tunnel on port 53. It works, after a fashion, but it was flaky enough to be unusable; I don't know whether this is because they do villainous throttling on it or just can't be arsed to support it properly or what.

But, as far as I'm concerned, they no longer have Internet access on the train. At most, it seems, they have Web access, and that's of no use to me. Even if they do still have real Internet access, it's hiding behind sufficient Web hoops to be unusable to me.

Wouldn't bother me as much if they were more honest about it.