The world hasn’t seemed very excited that the European Space Agency landed a probe on a comet last week, me included—even after learning that it bounced, twice (when it wasn’t supposed to have bounced at all), before settling down. Landing on the moon in 1969 was much cooler: first of all, there were people involved, and second because the moon is something we all know and Comet 67Pwhatchamacallit is not. There has been little sense of the scale of this achievement, until now: thanks to @TLBKlaus for providing this excellent graphic on Twitter.
Now you’re talking my language…
I like to think I don’t take a back seat to anyone when it comes to defense of civil liberties—I was against the Big Brother-y Patriot Act before it was cool—but I don’t get all the fuss about body scanners in airports.
I’ve been able to mostly ignore the uproar about the Transportation Security Administration’s airport security measures because, well, I’m pretty good at ignore. But I couldn’t look away from a series of posts by Padre Steve, a guy I find to be a pretty entertaining read, on the existential threat to liberty from our surrendering freedoms in the name of security. Admittedly, I was hooked by his extended reference to an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” to illustrate the problem.
With respect to Padre Steve and the others who have suffered indignities at the hands of an idiotic TSA employee, I’m not convinced. It seems likely to me that when one man pithily proclaimed “don’t touch my junk,” that was all that was necessary for the news media—the people with too little judgment and too much space to fill—to rev up the hysteria generator; Howard Kurtz does a good job surveying the landscape of the freak-out over pat-downs.
I’ll posit that we all agree that commercial air travel is not a right but a public accommodation justifiably subject to regulation in the interests of safety—would you get on a plane today if there was no screening of passengers or baggage? We can debate the appropriateness of the screening measures that are being used, but that’s just details. And in the meantime, there’s always the train or the bus.
Most experts believe the full-body scanners do not pose a serious health risk for the vast majority of travelers. As to the complaint that they’re too invasive, because someone will see a black-and-white x-ray depiction of your naked body—
Oh, yeah…verrry sexy.
I don’t think that’s too much to ask for the sake of better collective security, and certainly not when considered against the alternative of an all-over hands-on greeting from the TSA. All in all, the scan seems a reasonable security tactic in a world where religious fanatics convince poor lemmings to stuff their shoes and underwear with explosives to strike a blow against people they don’t know who’ve never harmed them.
But in the spirit of the holiday, I will say I am thankful for the comedy (click the pic):