Monday, November 22, 2010
a)Observe a 1950s terminal in person
b)Have the friendliest baggage check I've ever had, including one of the TSA staff chuckling at my red bag next to my red computer and saying, "I think I've guessed your favorite color."
c)Amble across the tarmac like a sixties celeb to the sky stairs.
d)Try to hump my baggage up sky stairs which are actually stairs you have to climb, despite a really bad knee, trick hip and generally decrepit body. (I guess if your definition of carry-on luggage is "luggage the passenger can carry, upstairs if necessary, and place in the overhead cabin" then maybe I didn't have carry-on luggage at all and I should just give up flying.)
JetBlue seem more human than many airlines. At the terminal (yes, my flight was delayed), the JetBlue guy called for someone to check in.
"Yao Ling, Yao Ling, to the middle desk area please."
Nothing happened. Five minutes later:
"Yao Ling, Yao Ling to the middle desk area. I promise it's nothing bad."
And the captain made some sort of joke on the way, too.
I'm not looking forward to the flight back, from a tight-arsed port like Dulles, but we'll see. I've read many a horror story about the TSA, but I flew out from there only three weeks ago. Let's see if they've turned into Nazis since then.
Friday, November 19, 2010
It's claustrophobic, isn't it, floating so close to all that choking water vapor? It's a start though. If you can get that far out of the well, you can get nice clean colonies in space. One day.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Thursday, November 04, 2010
Flying back from Washington proved to be quite fun too. Mostly due to the easy vodka. It had never occurred to me ask the stewardesses (or whatever they're called now) "I'd like two vodkas and orange please". I assumed you'd have to buy things one by one, like in a real bar. So a million kudos to the drunk in front of me on the trip out from SNA to DFW last Friday afternoon who taught me otherwise (by example).
We'd spent the previous day at the Air and Space Museum, so we went to the Steven F Udvar-Hazy Center on the way back to Dulles. This is where the Smithsonian stashes all the aircraft that are too large to go into the Hair and Face Museum on the National Mall.
It's huge. I've seen a Concord(e) of course (yawn) and an SR-71 Blackbird (more yawns) too, and a great deal of the others, but Udvar-Hazy holds the ace of all times - a space shuttle.
My god was it big and impressive. It was more like an ocean liner than a plane and dwarfed the other space craft there and in the Mall without even trying. This is a Gemini Capsule; this is an Apollo Capsule; hello up there (cranes neck), you must be a Space fucking Shuttle.
Then I was back to the airport to endure the usual. Shoes off! Laptops out! Who knows why they go through this crap. It's not to make us more safe - the idea that the security theater at the airports makes us safer is simply risible. I guess it's better to be seen to do something than to do nothing, even if 'something' is expensive, intrusive and disruptive and achieves bugger all. It is, after all, something.
No one should believe the latest 'terror scare'. Flock-sprayed printer cartridges with some sort of printed circuit glued on the outside? It's even more amateurish than the last three or four underwear and shoe scares. It's amateurish enough that I don't even believe the government orchestrated it, as I think even the American government could mock something up that was a little more believable. But you have to admit, it was convenient for it to happen just a couple of days before the elections. Vote For Fear!
Meanwhile, FedEx doesn't actually fly planes from Yemen. And isn't it weird that the Brits said the printer cartridges tested harmless, until the Yanks demanded that they weren't? None of this story hangs together. All we have here is a demand to be afraid, be very afraid, with nothing to back that up. And of course, the fact that a cargo plane (of dubious factuality) contained a bomb (of lead azide, I read somewhere, which would take a second device to actually burn) means that passengers on non-cargo planes will now be required to have a pornoscan (if the airport is so equipped) or a 'thorough' (read 'ball-squeezing') pat down if no scanners are available.
"The mail bomb threat prompted DHS to roll out additional security measures at passenger airports. An "unpredictable mix" of security layers for passengers were implemented, TSA announced, including explosives detectors, bomb sniffing dogs and additional pat downs."
Because you know, vague and unlikely threats to cargo always mean each individual human being on a passenger flight needs to submit to search. Under those circumstances, you should give up your constitutional rights against unlawful search or seizure. It makes COMPLETE SENSE.
They say the bomb could have been activated by wi-fi. Seems unlikely, there's not a lot of wi-fi in the sky. Pressure, altitude, timer, garage door opener, car door fob, GPS motion sensor...much more likely. Except there's no evidence the "bomb" had any of those on board. Anyway, it was a fake bomb. .
I've read a shitload of message board posts about this in the last few days. Many say that the Fourth Amendment is kind of not needed and could be done away with. That having pictures of your naked body examined by strangers is reasonable, and you should just get over it. It's not really a strip search since you don't strip (someone actually said this). Anyone who doesn't want to go through that, and isn't overjoyed by the alternative, a squeeze-frisk, must have something to hide.
Yeah, I do have a different alternative. There are people from that demographic trying to kill Americans. To reduce that, personally, I'd go for not killing people's families with drones, and not occupying other people's countries. I think that would be significantly cheaper and as a bonus would stop teh brown people developing red masks of blood vengeance as they survey the scattered limbs of their families, blood of their daughters soaking into the dry dust of their devastated houses. Call me a big silly if you like, but I sometimes wonder if blowing the fuck out of a family with a missile doesn't make the surviving family members wonder exactly how much they love the US.
Maybe I just have my head in the clouds.