Wednesday, November 24, 2010

You learn something new every day.

I've known about the Haji, the annual journey to Mecca for many years. But I didn't know that the circling of the Kabbah  was only part of the whole experience. I found this article to very illuminating.

And while doing the whole spiritual thing is all well and good, the godless capitalist wonders if there is money to be made there in the form of food sales, souvenirs and what have you. Or is this frowned upon like at Burning Man?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

So you want to see my junk?

My reply? Sure, whatever.

It seems that the blogosphere is getting its collective panties in a bunch about the new "porno scanners" and enhanced pat downs at airports. People are pissed that a flunkie in some room will see a crappy blueish image of their bodies. Including their junk.  This is an outrage!

So far as these scanners are concerned my concerns are a bit more practical. A) Are they safe? B) Do they work?

There have been some studies that indicate these scanners could potentially damage DNA or cause cancer. Unzipping my DNA concerns me. But no one has done any significant studies yet. The x-ray ones seem to be as safe as, well, getting an x-ray. You get a shitload more radiation getting a CAT scan and we seem happy about getting those. At this time I'm not freaked about getting cancer from getting scanned 3-4 times a year. Your mileage may vary.

Do they work? I suppose so. It can see guns and knives. These are, of course, things that wouldn't work in a hijacking anyway. Not these days. Can they detect explosive powders? Evidence suggests they can't. Could they detect an explosive device crammed in your ass? In short - ew. Also, NO, they can't. Well, I'm glad Michael Chertoff is getting paid well for the billions we are spending for deploying these useless machines.

Soooo, not super useful. What about the fact that the machines might store the images? So what? Calling these things porno scanners is a bit over the top. Have you seen the images these things produce? You have to have a pretty specific fetish to ignore the internet and use this to get your rocks off. Would I feel violated or embarrassed by someone seeing my scan? Personally? Not really. I was in theater for years where doing costume changes was common. I know exactly how big my penis is. Others might not share my opinion, we are after all a country founded by a bunch of super conservative crazies (the Puritans) and sometimes that crazy comes out at strange times.

So far as the pat downs are concerned, I haven't had one in the US yet. But I've been hit up by pretty thorough pat downs in Egypt,Turkey, Israel and Poland. No one fondled my junk. It was professional. I'll have to reserve my judgement about our version until after my next trip.  There are reports of TSA agents acting like jackasses. That shit I am ALL over. Acting like an asshat weather you are TSA or you flip burgers should not be tolerated. Period. Let the lawsuits and criminal charges flow.

 But what truly angers me is that America has just now decided that enough is enough. Both the tea party activists and the civil libertarians have both somehow JUST gotten to outraged. Really? And THIS is what you are pissed about? The Iraq war, Guantanimo, criminal banks, warrantless wiretaps, CIA black sites and torture THAT shit was just bad. But now that someone might actually take a blurry picture of your junk or brush against your breasts you are screaming foul?

I know, its the principal of the thing. The erosion of rights. These are things that should be fought for certainly. But a full body scan and a pat down do not a police state make. There are more pressing issues out there.  The methods the TSA are using to try and prevent terrorist attacks are at their very core deeply flawed. We are focusing on all the wrong shit.  I'm having flashbacks to High School. This was during the Reagan years. Iran Contra. Apartheid. Nuclear tensions with the U.S.S.R. Serious shit. But you know what got the student body truly motivated? What make them take up arms against "The Man?" The school banned a kind of Popsicle called the Guido. That turned our placid suburban institution into a hotbed of civil rights activism. Seriously. There were protests, petitions, posters and civil disobedience. It was insane. And I'm starting to feel that way again.