Re: Don't look at the man behind the curtain ...
I recently treated the missus to a trip to Dublin, but in order to get out of the airport and enjoy the craic, we first we had to pass through their "eGates". For those unfamiliar with the particular model used in Dublin airport, they are booths with glass doors front and rear, have one small photocopier like scanner that sucks in your face-down passport to take a memory of that, before a post mounted camera jigs up and down to match your eye-level and take a shot of your baffled and travel-weary fizzog.
As we were queuing up, we could could hear lots of mumbling about "these bloody gates", and how they never work, but I went through without any palaver. However, when my wife tried, using a passport that is a few years younger and ratrher less dog-eared than mine, it wouldn't let her past, nor would it let her go back. The screen simply kept telling her to try again, repeatedly. We were less than six feet from an elevated booth containing bored border guards, but non seemed to have noticed that movement through this supposedly high-speed, self-op facility had ground to a halt. In the end I had to go up to this booth, bang on the glass (I've seen The Fifth Element, I know how this could end), and politely ask the nice man if I could possibly get my wife back, as it was her birthday.
It's been said before, but travel security is nothing but theatre, implemented to try and make you feel safer, while simultaneously creating a market for expensive security hardware.