Tuesday, January 25, 2005

a polygraph test as a condition of employment

from my email by Ron Allen to wittgenstein-dialognet

I took a polygraph test as a condition of employment at a company when I lived in Texas.

The company did not allow anyone that smoked cigarettes. That's right, the owner was a vehement anti-smoker. The purpose of the lie detector was primarily to weed out people that smoked. I don't, didn't, and never did smoke, but it made no difference, I still had to sit down with electrodes attached to me while a guy asked questions.

The first thing that they do is to go over all the questions that you will be asked. They even give you a list of them to look at. This builds your confidence in the examiner, and it relaxes you--something that they call drawing a baseline of physiological responses. Second, the guy hooks up the wires to your chest, arm, and palm (breathing strain guage, heart rate monitor, and galvanic skin response). Then the examiner relaxes you for a while by asking you neutral, background questions such as the month of your birthday or your mother's maiden name.

This is how my polygraph test went. At first.

The examiner was a retired detective from the Dallas police department. He expressed surprise that I had never smoked; this was one of the official questions, on the list, one that I was aware was going to be asked while I was being recorded. About half-way through the interview, with the needles wiggling of course, he pulled out a pack of Marlboros and started smoking. I was astonished that he was trying to incite me into a nicotine attack or something even in the midst of a polygraph test whose express purpose was to determine if I smoked or not. The duplicity shocked me. And what is more, I recognized that someone who didn't smoke (like me) could react in an emotional way to the obvious trick of the examiner, rather than to the possibility of having been found lying by the machine, and it would be decided that I was a smoker. Not that I really cared for this crappy company, as single kid with no responsibilities whatever, but I thought of the person next in line with 4 kids to feed.

The questions continued after the examiner started to smoke with me in his office. I thought that this was pretty much the end of the line for me, so I sort of relaxed while he finished his smoke in my face and asked me questions about my mom's maiden name and my birthday. Next thing he does is he asks a question about whether I had falsified my employment application in any way. I think that this was their method to eliminate union organizers, who might hide their job history. I think federal law prevents companies from discriminating against union employees and hiring those that have belonged to unions, so the question was probably an end-around of the federal law. It didn't apply to me in any case, so I could answer the question truthfully--I wasn't an AFL-CIO field organizer. But what stunned me about this was that this was a new question, not at all on the list.

I was really cranked at the examiner, the retired Dallas cop. I called the company the next day to ask them how the polygraph went, expecting them to tell me to get lost, and they said to come in and start work. I was shocked again, because I glanced at the needle after the second trickey-poo of the retired lieutenant (something you aren't supposed to do; what the hell--he lied to me!) and saw that my GSR flew practically off the chart after a spike when he started smoking.

In psychology, the GSR is practically shunned as a physiological signal because of its wildly unpredictable responses. We used it, heart rate, and strain guages when I worked in the bio-psych lab at Berkeley. Everyone agreed that if our results hung on GSR, we were bogus. I guess guys have gone on to the gas chamber because of it, though. Too bad! Welcome to the USA.

I worked for a couple of days at the place, getting up at 4AM to be at work two hours later. I had two bosses, one I felt more comfortable with. I decided to ask the *other one* how the lie detector worked out. He said "OK, but there was some deception". I guess he thought that I'd deny it, but I just said, "Yes, there was." And that was it. He looked at me kind of surprised, and I just looked back at him. I did OK on the job, didn't smoke, and actually fixed a lot of stuff for them, leaving after a year or so for more pay and humane hours.

Another story, shorter: I knew a guy who lied through and through on a polygraph test and came out squeaky clean. What he did was to repeat to himself over and over "My mother's maiden name is Smith". That ruse gave him something to concentrate on, something monotonous, and he never lost baseline while they asked him if thought that labor unions were a good thing: "No" (flatline).

If I was on a jury, I'd never accept any polygraph evidence. How do you know what role the examiner played in generating the results?

Just my two cents.

and email Ron

Monday, January 24, 2005

Marina's Competition Site - For answers to Chat, Take a Break and other competitions

Marina's Competition Site - For answers to Chat, Take a Break and other competitions: "This site is dedicated to the memory of our beloved cat, Astra Lancaster
(1990 - 11th September 2004) "

Astra the Cat

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Trolleys on railways - and cars for track maintainance and fun


The "German Resiina Collection´s" (DDS) main objective is to keep, collect, restore and operate the smallest resiinas on the track. In Germany and other countries we call the resiina: Draisine (named after it´s inventor Mr.Karl Friedrich Freiherr Drais).

Since 1979 our collection has grown to incliude 70 Draisinen and 50 heavier cars with crane and loading-area, traillers and other special railcars for the track-maintenance.

der Eisenbahnfreunde Wetterau e.V.,
Bad Nauheim,

Stefan John,
Steinfurther Straße 21,
D-61231 Bad Nauheim,
Fax: 0049-6032-81343, Tel: 0049-172-6919866

Member of: NARCOA (North American Railcar Operators Association, USA)
NARCOA - North American Railcar Operators Association

PRO (Pacific Railcar Operators, San Jose, USA)
PRO Online - Pacific Railcar Operators

Friday, January 21, 2005

on Leno show - wine wheel

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Wil the fat lady sing ?

Sergeant at Arms Susan Wells stole the show at the Bush presidential inaugural,
she CLACKED CLACKED heavy footed down the stone stairs louder than the band.
Surely she should be on sick leave or pensioned off
- oh well she could shoot intruders rather than run after them.

My ISP is still down so I have CNN on the TV above my desk.
Bush's values have depreciated the dollar,
and created a reduction of living standards in the whole of the USA.

Well the US public voted for him and have to suffer -- too bad.

Even the band is slightly out of tune. . . it was a cold day too.

Google Search: inaugural - I had to get that spelling right.

looks like Segeant at Arms means something different in UK and in USA
or did CNN get her job title wrong? or did I?

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Danish News on Denmark.dk: Find up-to-date Danish news here

Danish News on Denmark.dk: Find up-to-date Danish news here: "For a full daily news service on Denmark, Danes and Danish Affairs visit the official Danish newsroom here. The newsroom carries professional press photos, news on business, Denmark and EU, Danish domestic politics, Denmark in international politics, science, IT, culture, art, sports and entertainment.

Sign up for the daily Denmark.dk newsletter here.

The news on Denmark.dk is provided by the national news agency Ritzau, the principal supplier of national and international news to all Danish news media.
Ritzau's Bureau receives material from several foreign agencies, notably Reuters, and itself disseminates Danish news abroad. 86% of its material is news and about 11% general information. The Bureau was established in 1866 and has been owned by the Danish press since 1947.

News on Danish business, domestic and international politics"

BBC NEWS | Europe | Denmark to hold early elections: "Denmark will hold an early general election on 8 February, the ruling Liberal Party said on Tuesday. "

Google Search: denmark

Saturday, January 15, 2005

U.S.-led forces damaged ancient Babylon - Yahoo! UK

U.S.-led forces damaged ancient Babylon - Yahoo! UK & Ireland News: "LONDON (Reuters) - U.S.-led forces, using Iraq's ancient city of Babylon as a military base, have caused 'substantial damage' to one of the world's most renowned archaeological treasures, a British Museum report says.
The report said U.S. and Polish military vehicles had crushed 2,600-year-old pavements in the city, a cradle of civilisation and home to one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Archaeological fragments were used to fill sand bags, it added."

but the living IRAQI's are the most important.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

New Scientist - Tsunami warning system is not simply sensors

New Scientist - Tsunami warning system is not simply sensors: "An early warning system for tsunamis is already in operation in the Pacific Ocean and consists of a network of seismograph and tidal gauges linked via satellite to monitoring centres based in Alaska, US, and Hawaii.
Seismographs provide the first line of defence, alerting monitoring staff to any earthquakes large enough to produce a tsunami. But not every such quake produces these deadly waves, so tidal gauges that record changes in ocean depth are then used to determine whether a tsunami is actually on its way.
However, a problem with the system is that three in four tsunami alerts are false alarms. Evacuations in such cases are costly and can breed complacency."

Pressure sensors
A more accurate monitoring system, developed by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, began operational use in 2003 and has been incorporated into the Pacific Ocean early warning system. Deep Ocean Assessment and Reporting (DART) sensors use deep-sea pressure detectors that measure changes in water depth as a tsunami wave passes overhead.

The sensors then transfer the information to a surface buoy, which relays it to the monitoring stations by satellite. The DART system prevented a false alarm on Hawaii just a month after its activation, following a tremor in Alaska. DART is also less vulnerable to earthquake damage than tide gauges but experts insist that multiple detection systems are essential.

Officials from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii detected the seismic signal from the earthquake on 26 December but were unable to determine when or where a tsunami might strike. Only after hearing media reports that a tsunami had hit Sri Lanka were they able to alert Madagascar and the Mauritius Islands via the State Department in Washington, DC, US.

Phil McFadden chief scientist at Geoscience Australia, which has been commissioned by the Australian government to design an early warning system for the Indian Ocean, says it could consist of 30 seismographs to detect earthquakes, 10 tidal gauges and six DART buoys. He estimates that it would only cost around $20m to install these sensors.

ut installing a detection system is only one part of the challenge, says David Ovadia, head of British Geological Survey International in Nottingham, UK. He says it is also vital to have a reliable communications system and to educate people about what to do after the alarm is raised.

MSNBC - Tsunami spares secret U.S. base

MSNBC - Tsunami spares secret U.S. base

Moreover, the base at Diego Garcia received the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center's warnings, which are issued in Hawaii. The Navy official said the island gets the warnings routinely as part of the Navy's Pacific Fleet command structure even though it is located in the Indian Ocean.