The Journey Begins . . .

After an extended (unexcused) absence, I return to word-smithery today, announcing my coming journey into the world of John Galt. This is a journey I’ve diligently eschewed for nearly 50 years, and I fix the blame squarely on the shoulders of my younger daughter and another dear friend, both of whom recently asked if I had ever read Atlas Shrugged.

Through the years, others have asked me that question. I’ve always been comfortable responding that the wordy tome (almost 1200 pages!) holds no interest for me. Of late, however, a contrary argument waged in my brain:  It’s not fair to comment when you haven’t read the book! So I succumbed at long last — plunking down cash at the Amazon portal. The book (weighing in at 4 pounds, per the shipping label) arrived on Tuesday.

No, I didn’t jump right in; I’m currently reading (usually at bedtime until I nod off) a Cordelia Gray mystery (author is P. D. James). Given my general lack of reading time, even this book — a veritable pygmy tipping the scales under 450 pages — seems a tad long, but that’s a complaint for another day. Continue reading “The Journey Begins . . .”

TSA Redux

No one in my family traveled by airplane for the holidays, so I wasn’t privy to any firsthand reports of TSA gropings. (These outrages will continue to be reported; this excellent site chronicles the abuse from numerous sources.) … Or, get a load of the video below!

This TSA video made my blood boil. Any mother who has breastfed a child knows the value of breast milk, and when a nursing mother (who simply requested not to have her breast milk irradiated) is subjected to such maltreatment by TSA mobsters, their behavior is inexcusable and unconscionable!

When I caught brief snatches on the weekend news about the National Opt-Out Day, I didn’t have a chance to check them right away. In general, the reports said the Opt-Out was a fizzle because few people actually opted out. (Based on these initial reports, I was disappointed, though I certainly understand folks being more concerned about getting to their destinations on time than making a statement about the TSA.)

Ah, but the real news appears to be that there was a major “opt-out” — and it was the TSA that was participating!! (I guess there’s no need for the public to Opt Out if TSA just turns off their machines, right? By many accounts, that’s exactly what happened at numerous US airports.)

Bravo! People concerned about their 4th Amendment rights have won the day. I don’t expect this to be the end of it, however. TSA has maneuvered (at least temporarily) away from the immediate backlash in this PR nightmare. Those costly machines may have been turned off last Wednesday, but the machines will be turned on again sooner or later. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty!

The End Game

Referring to what the TSA euphemistically styles “enhanced screenings,” the wonderfully compliant news outlets in their soft-as-a-baby’s-behind reporting (also, here and here) are now regurgitating the TSA-generated meme that “less than 3%” of the flying public is subjected to the heightened screening techniques.

Wow, that’s a relief! A measly 3% of airline passengers are ceding [unwillingly, for the most part] their Fourth Amendment “right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures ..!” I mean, it’s not as if the TSA is trampling on the rights of every American, right? You can still take a train, ride a bus and freely travel without fear of government intrusion, right?

Hmm. This video might change your mind about that notion.

Okay, so maybe this video producer is a crackpot. Consider then USA-Today‘s July 2010 article wherein the head of TSA admits rail and subways are his next priority? Continue reading “The End Game”

These Aren’t the Droids You’re Looking For . . .

Imagine this scenario: You’re heading out of town for a long-anticipated holiday with extended family. The trip requires nine hours in a car so — in spite of what you’ve heard/read about new TSA-sanctioned sexual assaults,  er, bureaucratic intimidations, er, safety screenings —  you opt to fly instead of taking the marathon but exhausting drive.

You arrive at the airport and bypass the ticket agent (being the savvy traveler you are, you’ve printed your boarding pass the night before). You don’t think of yourself as a Zombie, but you feel like one as you take your place in the mile-long, slithering line that edges ever-so-gradually toward the dehumanizing security checkpoint.

Government-issued ID in hand along with your boarding pass, you conduct a last-minute inventory for any incidental metals on your person. Satisfied you’ve done all you can — you’re intentionally wearing flip-flops, no belt, no underwire bra, no watch/necklace/belly ring, etc. — you move forward, reminding yourself to isolate the laptop before placing your bag on the conveyor belt that goes through the scanner. Continue reading “These Aren’t the Droids You’re Looking For . . .”

TSA = Stranger Danger

Can’t help but continue to cogitate on this TSA screening nightmare (see my previous post).The outrage, tales of indecencies committed, frustrations and absurdities continue to be recounted in lurid and nauseating detail.

The TSA website laughably defends their recently implemented “security” measures, claiming:  “A primary goal of TSA is to treat all passengers with courtesy, dignity, and respect during the security screening processes.” (Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it?)

Yes, I can imagine serious-faced, properly licensed and qualified authorities serving up identical reassurances as multitudes of Jews and other undesirables were ushered onto cattle cars headed for their final destination (i.e. death camps).

I would argue the TSA screening practices have little to do with courtesy, dignity or respect. Rather, their intent seems to be to discourage airline travel. (I mean, it’s already worked in my case!) Continue reading “TSA = Stranger Danger”

Interesting Times

Nobody seems to know for certain where the phrase “may you live in interesting times” originated. No matter. During more than a month of absence from posting here, I have come to understand those six words are as much curse as blessing.

A pre-election day trip to Philadelphia reminded me of the vast differences between Benjamin Franklin’s time and ours, but the trip also reinforced a nagging sense that Tyranny remains the same in every age.

Consider the current flap (links here, here, here) over full-body scanners (FBS) newly installed in airports. Maybe the picture to the left offers a clue about what comes next?

On Thursday evening (10/14), my mother and I arrived at STL.  We entered the Southwest terminal with plenty of time to spare (or so we thought). Neither of us knew much about FBSs … much less that they were in place. No more than a handful of the multitude in line with us knew either!

People in front, behind and to either side in the zig-zag security line expected, like my mom and me, to board flights set for departures around 7 p.m.. Long story short, most were still standing in line past the appointed hour of departure! (Remind me, please:  what’s the point of an “A” boarding pass??!) The culprit:  a so-called “rapid scan” FBS. Continue reading “Interesting Times”