Info

badice.com ~ travel musings for the masses

Archive for

I apologize for my many posts on the TSA and the current security issues at airports but the situation has deteriorated so quickly that it is hard to keep up.

Over the past couple of days a couple of bloggers and news reporters have been served subpoenas because they published TSA Security Directive SD-1544-09-06. Both Steven Frischling and Chris Elliott were served subpoenas by the DHS to learn the identity of the source who had provided the TSA directive. Mr. Frischling believes that the TSA is taking security seriously and that is why they want the name of the source. I agree with him, but the methods that the DHS and TSA have used seem extreme. Most of the directive is just procedural stuff and would have come out as people flew, so why all the fuss?

The TSA wants to make sure they close as many holes in their organization as possible to insure functional security. If people are leaking things that will eventually become public what is to keep them from leaking confidential information? In that regard I understand the need to know the identity of the leak. However, coming down full force on these reporters is not the way I would go about it.

Hopefully the hassles from the TSA will stop and this administration will realize that making “Top Secret” documents public is not as much of a priority as having safety cover the different methods of travel. Mr. President, fire the TSA.

The New York Daily News is reporting that Amsterdam-Schipol International Airport will start putting full body image scanners in place in the wake of the attempted terrorist attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253. On top of that, the Dutch are pushing for the full body scanners to be deployed in airports across the 27 countries that make up the European Union.

While the average traveler sees these machines as a necessity to prevent terrorism, and yes, in this case they may have worked, I see them as a nuisance. Even more annoying than the machines are the people who want them in place but do not want profiling of any kind to be used at airports. So, it’s alright to look at someone nude on a computer screen but picking people out of a line because they fit a profile is horrible?

Where do we stop though? If a terrorist is able to carry out an attack after passing through the machines, what’s the next step? Does everyone have to have every article of luggage and every part of their body searched before the get on a plane? What about airport workers? At some point, the searches and nuisances will get so bad that people will just stop flying… Then what?

It appears I clicked the “publish” button just a little too quickly on my post about the new TSA rules. A few minutes after I posted that, a new post appeared on KLM’s blog documenting the changes. The biggest change? No more 1-hour before landing rule. From the looks of it, the TSA decided that requiring passengers to stay seated with no entertainment during the last hour of flight was just stupid.

Bags will still be physically checked at random gates and passengers may be patted down before the flight. This too is kind of dumb but I would rather go through the pat down than be stuck in my seat during the last hour of the flight.

What does this move really mean though? It means the TSA is playing a guessing game on how to prevent attacks and that they really have no idea what to do. Ignorance is bliss when it is someone else undergoing the treatment I guess.

After Christmas Day’s failed attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 the TSA has announced new security procedures both at airports and in-flight. The procedures are supposed to make us safer while we travel but they seem to be heavy handed and overkill.

The domestic changes include more security personnel and screening of passengers at gates. While neither of these things seem like a big deal on the surface, the screening of passengers at the gate is a time intensive undertaking. This means that flights may be later and people may miss their flights due to the increased screenings.

Where the real restrictions come into play is international flights entering the United States. The rules now state that for the last hour of flight all passengers must remain seated with nothing in their laps, including blankets, pillows, magazines, and computers. Also, no electronics are allowed during that last hour flight. There have been confirmed rumors that airlines are turning off the in-flight entertainment for the entire flight because of the map feature. Another rumor, though I am not sure it has been confirmed, is that passengers will not be allowed to access their luggage in the overhead bin.

Maybe I am a rarity but I think these international rules are complete “theater” for the sake of us as an audience. No in-flight entertainment because of the map? If people know how long a flight is, they can kind of guess where they are, plus there are tools that map the most efficient routes for planes to travel.

The last hour of the flight is when people are most restless, they need to use the restroom and they are just ready to get off the plane. Keeping people in their seats for that last hour may seem like a good idea but what’s to keep a terrorist from doing their bad deed four hours before landing? Does no one else see the uselessness of this rule?

I am fine with not being able to use electronic devices that last hour, but not being able to read a magazine or cover myself with a blanket is not security, it’s paranoia mixed with the notion that we can keep people from doing bad things at all times.

What this boils down to is you, as a passenger, getting closer and closer to just becoming a body on a transport plane. When they announce that they are blindfolding everyone before boarding, I’m done flying.

[UPDATE] – Scott McCartney has a great write-up on this lunacy at The Wall Street Journal.

This morning the health insurance legislation that has been on the table in the Senate passed with a 60-39 vote. Now the legislation must be merged with the bill that passed in the House in November. In reality, this is when the real “fun” begins.

For the most part, I do not think that most Americans understand the legislation or what it means for the government to provide health insurance to millions of its citizens. There is also a lack of understanding of the difference between healthcare and health insurance. Americans are not lacking healthcare, a number lack health insurance. Sure, it is semantics, but it is meaningful semantics. Stating that Americans lack healthcare, is making it sound like the states lack hospitals and we get our medical care from shaman hanging out in a forest.

My biggest hang-up with the legislation that passed actually has nothing to do with health part of the bill, but instead some of the provisions regarding how states will be allocated money and the inability to repeal the Medicare Advisory Board by a future Congress.

I will not go into the details about these things because they are complicated and I am not sure they will even make it into the merged bill. What I think people need to understand is that there has never been a guarantee on one’s health or on the ability to receive medical care on the cheap. Is the healthcare system broken? Yes. Can the healthcare system be fixed by having the government mandate changes and pass out cash? I highly doubt it. I would love to be proven wrong, but I just don’t see it happening.

Let’s remember that these are politicians at work. No matter what side of the argument that you are on, can we agree that most politicians do what they do to get reelected? Or that they want to stick to the party “line”? What this amounts to then is asking men, who have been self-serving for the most part, to start serving the people that they represent.

When we elect a Congressman we are electing someone that serves the people of that district. This doesn’t mean that the elected official has to do everything the people say, it means that the official needs to do what’s in the best interest of the people while listening to their constituents. So if a Congressman wants to vote for legislation but is getting loud opposition from their constituents, they shouldn’t vote for it. That was the way the system was meant to work but I am afraid it has fallen away from that into personal gain.

Have a Merry Christmas!

This video has been on the internet for a while but it still intrigues me, maybe because the guy has a love of travel similar to myself. He setup his camera to take a picture every minute or so and then compiled it into a video. The best part is, he flew Denver to Singapore for a weekend. Right up my alley.

[vimeo]http://www.vimeo.com/7410637[/vimeo]

Next time I find some crazy routing or have a couple of long flights, I’m going to see if I can compile something like this.

A military man can scarcely pride himself on having ‘smitten a sleeping enemy’; it is more a matter of shame, simply, for the one smitten. I would rather you made your appraisal after seeing what the enemy does, since it is certain that, angered and outraged, he will soon launch a determined counterattack.

– Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

Those words, spoken after the attack 68 years ago today, marked the beginning of the end of World War II. Yamamoto knew that even though he had partially disabled the naval fleet at Pearl Harbor, the resolve of the American people would strengthen their willingness to fight. Rather than relying on his advisor’s quick assessment from a strategic point of view, Yamomoto remembered his time at Harvard University to understand what was to come.

Pearl Harbor War Widows Go Into Military Work

Hollem, Howard R.,, photographer. Pearl Harbor widows have gone into war work to carry on the fight with a personal vengeance, Corpus Christi, Texas. Mrs. Virginia Young (right) whose husband was one of the first casualties of World War II, is a supervisor in the Assembly and Repairs Department of the Naval Air Base. Her job is to find convenient and comfortable living quarters for women workers from out of the state, like Ethel Mann, who operates an electric drill.

The ultimate sacrifice of 2,345 military personnel and 57 civilians would not be in vain.

Today is a day that our service men and women from World War II should be remembered, thanked, and admired. If you have children, teach them about today and the great sacrifice of a generation to insure that the United States prevailed and lived on.