Look out Iowa. This bastard is headed your way.

Momentarily Anne and I will be setting out on a road trip to Cedar Rapids, Iowa for a long holiday weekend visit with her best friend from college. I’ve been married to Anne for 8 years and we’ve been a couple for a decade now and I’ve yet to meet her BF because, well, she and her husband are in Iowa. Anne decided it was time we corrected that and started planning this trip awhile back. This trip is what got me my new Garmin Nuvi 360 GPS so I can’t complain. I’ll be taking both my newly refurbished Canon digital camera as well as the RCA Small Wonder camcorder to see if there’s anything interesting to document on the highways and byways as we make the eight hour drive. I’ll have my laptop with me so I should be able to check in on email and the blog over the weekend assuming there’s a wireless hotspot within range of where I am.

It’s been awhile since I’ve driven a long distance like this, last time was in my late twenties, so it should be interesting to see how well I hold up.

Continental now charging you $15 for your first checked bag.

In an apparent attempt to dissuade the few remaining people willing to travel on their airline the folks at Continental have introduced a $15 charge for your first checked bag:

The fee applies immediately to tickets bought for destinations in the United States and to flights between the United States and Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada for travel starting on or after October 7.

Continental said the fee will not apply to its “EliteAccess” customers, travelers on full-fare economy tickets, or to military personnel and their families on official orders.

That’s in addition to a $25 fee for a second checked bag. Soon they’ll have a $30 oxygen fee and you’ll have to fly naked or face another $25 fee. Fuck Continental Airlines. I’ll fucking walk.

Excellent OpEd from an airline pilot on the idiocy of airport security.

Go read this New York Times OpEd by Patrick Smith. It’s an excellent rant about the idiocy that passes for security that is the TSA. A snippet:

No matter that a deadly sharp can be fashioned from virtually anything found on a plane, be it a broken wine bottle or a snapped-off length of plastic, we are content wasting billions of taxpayer dollars and untold hours of labor in a delusional attempt to thwart an attack that has already happened, asked to queue for absurd lengths of time, subject to embarrassing pat-downs and loss of our belongings.

The folly is much the same with respect to the liquids and gels restrictions, introduced two summers ago following the breakup of a London-based cabal that was planning to blow up jetliners using liquid explosives. Allegations surrounding the conspiracy were revealed to substantially embellished. In an August, 2006 article in the New York Times, British officials admitted that public statements made following the arrests were overcooked, inaccurate and “unfortunate.” The plot’s leaders were still in the process of recruiting and radicalizing would-be bombers. They lacked passports, airline tickets and, most critical of all, they had been unsuccessful in actually producing liquid explosives. Investigators later described the widely parroted report that up to ten U.S airliners had been targeted as “speculative” and “exaggerated.”

The passenger screenings are nothing more than security theater that offer no real improvements in our safety and are a waste of time and money that make travel by air undesirable at best. Yet we put up with it because too many Americans are credulous and scared and willing to accept whatever bullshit they’re fed by the Government if they think it’ll keep them safe. Given the stunning track record of lying to the citizenry that the current administration has racked up you’d think more people would be second guessing the story they’re being told, but very few do. It doesn’t help that the majority of Americans are scientifically illiterate and devoid of any real critical thinking skills which would help them to realize that the Ban On Liquids is just stupid. This is a point that’s not lost on Mr. Smith:

As for Americans themselves, I suppose that it’s less than realistic to expect street protests or airport sit-ins from citizen fliers, and maybe we shouldn’t expect too much from a press and media that have had no trouble letting countless other injustices slip to the wayside. And rather than rethink our policies, the best we’ve come up with is a way to skirt them — for a fee, naturally — via schemes like Registered Traveler. Americans can now pay to have their personal information put on file just to avoid the hassle of airport security. As cynical as George Orwell ever was, I doubt he imagined the idea of citizens offering up money for their own subjugation.

How we got to this point is an interesting study in reactionary politics, fear-mongering and a disconcerting willingness of the American public to accept almost anything in the name of “security.” Conned and frightened, our nation demands not actual security, but security spectacle. And although a reasonable percentage of passengers, along with most security experts, would concur such theater serves no useful purpose, there has been surprisingly little outrage. In that regard, maybe we’ve gotten exactly the system we deserve.

It was Benjamin Franklin who once said “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Those words remain as true today as they were in his time.

Link found at Boing Boing.

Beware the “Behavior Detection Officers!”

I’ve said before that I’ve not taken a plane flight since 9/11 and with the growing absurdity that is airport security getting worse by the day I may never bother to fly again.

Patti Davis: At the Airport, You Better Smile – Newsweek National News – MSNBC.com

“Specially trained security personnel” will be watching passengers for “micro-expressions” that will reveal treacherous agendas and insidious intentions at airports around the country. These agents, who may literally hold your fate in their hands have been given a lofty, Orwellian name: “Behavior Detection Officers.”

Sir, you’re not smiling enough. Aren’t you happy you’re going on a plane trip? Don’t you just love flying? I’ll have to ask you to come over to the nice officer with the rubber glove on his hand and drop your trousers. Have a nice day!

In the study of “micro-expressions”—yes, it is actually a field of study and there are some who are arrogant enough to call it a science—it has been decided that when people wish to conceal emotions, the truth of their feelings is revealed in facial flashes. These experts have determined that fear and disgust are the key things to look for because they can hint of deception.

Let’s see, fear and disgust in an airport? I’m frightened and disgusted weeks before I have to show up at an airport. In fact, I’ve pretty much sworn off the whole idea of going anywhere by airplane. It’s bad enough that I might be trapped in a crowded plane with no food or water and nonworking toilets for hours; now there are security agents interpreting our facial expressions. The face police, in place at more than a dozen U.S. airports already, aren’t identified as such. But the watcher could be at curbside baggage, the ticket counter or near the metal detectors and X-ray machines. The Transportation Security Administration hopes to have as many as 500 Behavior Detection Officers on the job by the end of 2008.

How much longer before they start offering cash rewards for people to turn each other in at the slightest suspicion that they may be up to no good? All thanks to President Dumb Ass Bush!