Friday, November 19, 2010

TSA: Trouser Search Agency

The big news item this week is the TSA's new scope-or-grope policy; either endure an electronic strip search or get a "junk check" by a TSA perv. Several points occur to me:

Dangers of back-scatter x-ray: I think this is a red herring. If officials sources are to be trusted (which is never a given), the dosage the new machines subject you to is about 1/50 of what you are about to be exposed to while flying, and is far less than the continuous dose we were exposed to while living at one mile elevation for over two years.

The real issue with the new machines: You are being strip-searched. You are exposing your genitalia to person or persons unknown. Our over-lords try to assure us that the images have all the naughty bits obscured, that they are viewed remotely by people who can't see who is being scanned, that the images cannot be saved, that the images cannot be printed. And yet images keep popping up all over the place, some very graphic.

On being fondled by the TSA: A TSA employee who shall remain anonymous stated that no one was being groped; that the TSA agents merely run a hand up the inside of the person's thigh until they "meet resistance." Thought experiment: If I were to hop on the New York subway and run my hand up a fellow passengers inner thigh until I met resistance, I would be rightly charged with sexual assault. Based on Penn Jillete's experience with the TSA, at least the Vegas cops are willing to entertain the idea that wearing a badge doesn't exempt you from laws governing sexual assault:

The cop, the voice of sanity says, "What's wrong with you people? You can't just grab a guy's crank without his permission." I tell him that my genitals weren't grabbed and the cop says, "I don't care, you can't do that to people. That's assault and battery in my book."

The supervisor says that they'll take care of the security guy. The cop says, "I'm not leaving until Penn tells me to. Now do you want to fill out all the paper work and show up in court, because I'll be right there beside you."

There's a question I'd like to see asked by more local police and judges when dealing with any federal agency (IRS, FBI, ATF, DEA, etc.), not just the TSA: "What's wrong with you people?"

[Aside: Read Penn's entire account. It will do your soul good to see all the groveling by the TSA once they figured out they had just made a fatal PR mistake, including promises of a personal TSA escort (female) on Penn's next flight to make sure his trip is "very pleasant." One wonders just how pleasant....]

Response to all this from Big Sis: "if people want to travel by some other means," they have that right.

Yes. Yes we do. If we are lucky enough to live where there is bus or train service, we can do that. Or we can use the deadliest form of long-distance transportation: private automobile. Every time Napolitano opens her mouth, the radius of my personal no-fly zone increases.

All of this is deadly to the airlines and airports which are already on the ropes and don't need the TSA Gomer Gestapo driving away what's left of their customer base. Yesterday, the Sanford and Orlando airports both announced they would be kicking the TSA to curb at the end of the year. Best birthday present ever. I may actually become proud of our adopted home if this comes to pass.

Remember Grumpy the Clown, the illiterate clown elected to Brazil's congress on the slogan, "It can't get any worse"? Remember when I said the establishment wouldn't let him in? Well:

The Sao Paulo Electoral Court held a closed-door exam for the clown turned congressman-elect on Thursday to determine if he meets a constitutional mandate that federal lawmakers be literate.

Wanna bet that "constitutional mandate" is more like a penumbra formed by an emanation?

Orcas in New Zealand like to body-surf:

Orcas, or killer whales, positioned themselves prominently and made it clear they were the real experts -- and that no mere human on a surfboard was going to deny them whatever waves they wanted.

... since orcas can weigh up to eight tons and are atop the food chain, surfing alongside them can be unsettling, to say the least.

"Some of the surfers, like the orca, just go for it and have an absolute buzz," Visser said. "And then other surfers freak out and tell people how it was a life-threatening situation, so you get both extremes."

Sweet. I already have a DVD of me getting a belly-ride on a dolphin; I'd love to have one of me surfing with a pod of orcas. Now if I just had some clue how to surf....

According to an article on the CNBC site, 1 in 5 Americans is mentally ill. While I'm willing to support the idea that there are a lot of stupid people out there, I'm not ready to concede that 20% of the population is mentally ill (and by definition, in need of chemical treatment). Clearly, the Psychiatric Industry ® is out of control. Like the TSA, it is time and past time that the adults say, "Enough!"

Remember that place called Haiti? That had a earth quake a while back that killed a quarter million people? Now there is a cholera epidemic; 1,200 dead in a month with many more to come. Right on our doorstep while we spend blood and treasure on towel-heads. Don't get it. Guess I'm thick.

Secret Walmart survey shows inflation is already here. This is news to the ignorati, while the rest of us living in the real world have known this for a while. Welcome to reality ya pile of putzes.

The War on Normal Children (what most people refer to as "the public schools") continues:

School reverses order for student to remove American flag from his bike. If it takes mass community protests for the flock of pansies running the local school to recognize the difference between flying a foreign flag and flying the American flag, then it's time to assign them duties more fitting to their talents. Like maybe picking up litter at the local park.

Principal denies ambulance access to injured player. Because the school had a rule against motor vehicles driving on the football field. The bigger story is that yet-another high school student suffers a serious injury. Fear of (non-existent) injuries forced the elimination of science labs in our schools, yet every Friday, the relatively wide-spread carnage on athletic fields continues without question.

You've probably heard about the "miracle" Wheel of Fortune solve of a 28-character puzzle with nothing but an apostrophe and a single "L." But was it really a miracle or just something much more mundane; like work. Why is "miracle" and "cheating" always the first hypothesis considered rather than "intelligence" and "preparation"? The same with The Price is Right's miracle moment; why assume brains and hard work  when cheating provides a much sexier story (and avoids the ego-deflating admission that we couldn't duplicate the feats of others because we are dumb and lazy)?

As you probably noticed, nothing has really changed around here. I finished up my tax class on Wednesday, so other than turning in the last of the work tomorrow, I'm done with the long part. I'm still waiting to be sent the links for the on-line tests, and I need to do the sample returns. That part will likely have to wait until after Thanksgiving because the person with the keys to the office won't be around much if at all next week. Tomorrow, my parents are scheduled to show up to check out our ghetto apartment and go out to dinner with us for my birthday. We may be heading over their way for Thanksgiving, if they don't have anything else going on. Debbie has to work the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, so we didn't have any real plans other than frozen pizzas and Hulu. We're such party animals.

That's it for now; off to read a little Nassim Nicholas Taleb.