Thursday, November 04, 2010

Air and Space Museum

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.

It sort of embodies American superiority. "Hi Russia! Hi China! What did you do on your holidays? Well that's nice. I did THIS!" [Whips out a Space 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.


Bruv said...

Hi Sis

You think you have problems with airport security, you should try being in my shoes (or not if your going through security). Remember I have had a left knee total replacement and my right hip replaced (4 times but thats another story) so I have more exotic metalwork in my body than the space shuttle you visited. It has got to the stage where before I step throught he gate I take shoes, belt everything loose off then tell the security guys to get their hand held metal detectors out ready for the alarm going of. Leaving SF when we visited you they were so thorough that I thought they were going to give me a rubber glove internal as well!!!! So don't complain when you only have to take your shoes off.


Peromyscus said...

It doesn't work that way. If you're a victim of a stupid and ineffective policy, you don't get to tell other victims they aren't allowed to complain. Fact is, we both get to complain.

Due to reconstructive surgeries I don't want to get into here, I can't pass a backscatter machine scan. When they become mandatory (as the manufacturers are insisting - it's all about the money) I'll be a candidate for the extra-squeezy patdown myself - whether I go through the device or not.

I'll complain then, and I'll complain now.

Casey said...

Darn! I wish I'd known you were in town so I could've said hello!

Peromyscus said...

I didn't know that was your homebase, Casey. When I get out that way again, I'll give you a heads-up. I'd love to meet.

Peromyscus said...

Okay, Casey. I will be in Washington on business on the 22nd. I can't figure out how to tell your website that, so hopefully you can pick it up from here. Love to meet you if possible.


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