A Letter to My Representatives

I just sent the following letter to Jim Bunning, Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul (But I could only find a campaign address), Ed Whitfield, and Barrack Obama.  They are my United States representatives.  I thought I would share it with you. I am writing you today regarding the new TSA screening policies.

They are unacceptable.

First, let me be clear about something.  I want to be safe when I fly.  I do not want to share a plane with terrorists.

Second, I do not believe that the new screening practices make anyone safer.

Third, the new screening practices are unconstitutional. (As far as I know, the 4th amendment is still in effect.)  They are invasive at best, and immoral at their worst.

Airlines are a major economic factor in this country.  The new TSA requirements make me not want to fly for a host of reasons.  I do not want multiple x-rays per year.  I do not want anyone to see me naked. (I’m not worried about the pictures getting out because nobody else wants to see me naked either.  However, not everyone can say that.) And I certainly do not want to be groped.  The new pat-down procedure is tantamount to being groped.  No one can deny that.  If many people feel, as I do, that being subjected to such humiliation is not worth it, there will be disastrous economic consequences for the airlines.

I believe the security bottleneck makes flying more dangerous.  Simply put, where there is a backup and a long crowd, there is an opportunity.  Bombing 200 people standing in line at a security checkpoint is just as effective as blowing up a plane.

It makes me feel like the government is not really concerned about my safety, but rather with putting on a show.  These procedures will not make flying any safer. They will only make it more humiliating and less enjoyable.  However, we will continue to be subjected to this treatment because it looks like we are doing something.

Please do whatever is in your power to overturn these screening procedures and to implement a system that would actually make us safer.

- Concerned voter

This post mentions politicians by name so read the * in the right-hand column.

An Open Letter to the TSA

Dear Transportation Security Administration Must we learn everything the hard way?

I don’t want to stand in a security line for 2 hours.

Also, I don’t particularly want to explode.

Fortunately these things do not have to be mutually exclusive.  There is a solution to this problem.  There are probably multiple solutions.

Steve Breen

So far, however, the solution to our safety issue has not been a solution at all.  So far what we have done is reactionary overreaction.  (That is a phrase that just rolls off the tongue.)  I suppose it is a problem inherent within the democratic process.  All of our people in charge depend on being elected, which is good.  However, it motivates them to make a show.  What is important to politicians is that, even if nothing is actually accomplished, it looks like something important has changed so those depending on votes can be lauded for their efforts.  Even in the face of very good evidence that what has been done is ineffective, politicians laud themselves because perception is much more important than reality when you need votes from a largely uninformed public.

In the case of airport security, however I think the show has actually made us less safe.

Borrowing from a recent conversation and this article by Cathal Kelly in the Toronto Star I would like to make three suggestions.

First, share information. No need to rehash all the mistakes from the underwear bomber.  The fact is, if there was intergovernmental communication this wouldn’t have happened.  There are probably 1000 programmers who could develop a sharing system that is both simple and effective.  Abdulmutallab, the underwear bomber, could have been stopped by a FBI/CIA/DHS version of Digg.

Second, look at people. I don’t mean through the body scanner, I mean look at their behavior.  Right now there is only one real point of contact in an airport, the person who looks at your boarding pass and driver’s license.  And that’s not a very careful look because of the long line of people behind you. The other people in the security clearance are focused on the bags, facilitating shoe removal, and patting down Granny.  One thing I know is this.  If I was gifted at card counting, every casino in Las Vegas would know who I was as soon as I walked in the door.  They would certainly keep track of me.  And although all those casinos are in competition (allegedly, our government agencies are not) they would all know me.  I understand that casinos are better funded than the DHS, but safe flights are much more important.

I’m not too overly worried about the body scanner because I know that nobody really wants to see me naked.  In fact, having been to the beach, I know that we really don’t want to see almost anybody naked.

Third, crowds are inherently dangerous. Here is a quote from the above article “Lines are staggered. People are not allowed to bunch up into inviting targets for a bomber who has gotten this far.”  Bombing 200 people standing in line at a security checkpoint is just as effective as blowing up the plane.

There needs to be some sort of speed pass system for frequent flyers.  That alone would help alleviate much of the congestion at the lines.  I ahve flown 6 times in the last 5 years so this suggestion will only help me by clearing out those people who really pile up the miles.  But it only makes sense for there to be a system in place for those people.

I’ll end with a slightly more upbeat note.  I actually believe that there is almost no danger of a hijacking on board an airplane today because of the events of 9/11.  A plane full of passengers realizes that you cannot stab them all into submission.  So the box cutters used in those attacks will not work.  The cockpits are safer than before, and the presence of air marshals has helped.

Best Web Junk (October 31)

This is probably the best headline I've ever seen If you click through and look at these 2 photos, you will never want to board an airplane, ever.  (Unless you are very proud of your body)

This fail is really a grafitti win - best vandalism ever

One of the many reasons I don't drink is because alcohol makes you dumber, and I never met anybody who needed to get dumber

I really don't understand advertising for atheism.

It's Halloween, so you might as well play this. (It takes like a minute)

The Final Countdown on KazooKeylele - found at Jawbone Radio


And since it's halloween, here is Mary Poppins as a horror film


Final Thoughts on the SBC 2008

I didn’t know how to wrap up my experience at the 2008 SBC, so I decided to just make a list of stuff I am thinking. This list will be complete thoughts, but not expounded upon unless you want to hear more.

Thoughts in no particular order

  • I didn’t vote for Him, but I love and deeply admire Johnny Hunt and believe he will be a great president.
  • The music was wonderful. I was moved to tears more than once. The Gettys particularly, but also the combined choir from the final night.  My favorite song is here. (start at the 5:23 mark in this one)
  • After seeing the IMB report, I am deeply convicted that I need to go on a foreign mission trip.
  • I only saw 2 votes unopposed – Moving the schedule forward 15 minutes because the order of business committee didn’t have any business, and appreciating 100 years of RAs.  Every other vote had at least one person waving a ballot in the negative
  • Frank Page runs a tight ship.  We were ahead of schedule nearly the entire time.
  • Folks at the convention seemed generally positive. Different from the general tone of the blogging world, and a great encouragement to me.
  • For some reason I really enjoy the business part of the business meeting, where we have motions, amendments, and calls for the question and such. Is that weird?
  • I was not there for resolution 6.  (I didn’t get up when my sister-in-law tried to wake me.)  But it was the most important of the convention. I’m glad it was amended and hope it has some effect. Also, this is a good summary/commentary.  Or you can watch it yourself here (it starts around the 15 minute mark)
  • Half of all Guidestone claims are for “preventable” issues such as diabetes and heart conditions. As a fat dude (though not Guidestone insured), I’m ashamed of that.
  • 7300 messengers is more than I expected. Especially with the convention being held north of the Ohio.
  • The Annie Armstrong banquet was wonderful. The speaker was great, the fire alarm ruined it
  • The falling dollar cost us $18 million as we tried to spend LMCO moneyDollar vs Euro...Wow

I’m not that popular but I saw a bunch of people I know pretty well

Here's some other stuff not necessarily convention related but related to my trip.

  • For the first time ever I pumped ethanol.  $2.99 but it got much worse mileage.GPS leads through Lucas Oil Stadium
  • The GPS I borrowed tried to lead me through a football stadium.
  • My brother’s dog is humongous.
  • The TSA took my toothpaste.  Stupid liquid rule.  But I learned that saline is allowed in your carry-on.