October 2010
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Month October 2010

For the First Time, the TSA Meets Resistance

From The Atlantic:

This past Wednesday, I showed up at Baltimore-Washington International for a flight to Providence, R.I. I had a choice of two TSA screening checkpoints. I picked mine based on the number of people waiting in line, not because I am impatient, but because the coiled, closely packed lines at TSA screening sites are the most dangerous places in airports, completely unprotected from a terrorist attack — a terrorist attack that would serve the same purpose (shutting down air travel) as an attack on board an aircraft.

Agents were funneling every passenger at this particular checkpoint through a newly installed back-scatter body imaging device, which allows the agency’s security officers to, in essence, see under your clothing. The machine captures an image of your naked self, including your genitals, and sends the image to an agent in a separate room. I don’t object to stringent security (as you will soon see), but I do object to meaningless security theater (Bruce Schneier’s phrase), and I believe that we would be better off if the TSA focused its attentions on learning the identity and background of each passenger, rather than on checking whether passengers are carrying contraband (as I suggested in this article, it is possible for a moderately clever person to move contraband through TSA screenings with a fair amount of ease, even with this new technology).

In part because of the back-scatter imager’s invasiveness (a TSA employee in Miami was arrested recently after he physically assaulted a colleague who had mocked his modestly sized penis, which was fully apparent in a captured back-scatter image), the TSA is allowing passengers to opt-out of the back-scatter and choose instead a pat-down. I’ve complained about TSA pat-downs in the past, because they, too, were more security theater than anything else. They are, as I would learn, becoming more serious, as well.

Red Shirt Guy Speaks Out

(via Buzzfeed)

Rand Paul Supporter Charged With Assault

And he’s still waiting for his apology:

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The central Kentucky man who was videotaped stepping on a woman outside a U.S. Senate debate has been charged with misdemeanor assault.

Tim Profitt and other supporters of Republican Rand Paul were filmed restraining a woman attempting to give the candidate a mock award. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Profitt will go before a district judge in Lexington on Nov. 18 on a fourth-degree assault charge.

A criminal summons says Profitt “intentionally placed his foot on the shoulder/head region on the victim.”

Halloween Light Show 2010

Signs From Colbert/Stewart’s Rally

From Slog.

More signs at this Flicker page.

John Stewart’s Speech at the Rally to Restore Sanity

Pre-Blessed Food

(via The Friendly Atheist)

Hi, I’m a Tea Partier

(via Dangerous Minds)

Bird Hunted To Near Extinction Due To Infuriating ‘Fuck You’ Call

Re-Discovery of a 70-ton Relief Map of California

From SF Gate:

San Francisco’s oldest and best-known white elephant – the huge three-dimensional relief map of California that once graced the Ferry Building – has turned up at an undisclosed location on the city’s waterfront.

The map was one of the wonders of the West when it was unveiled in 1924.

It was as long as two football fields and showed California in all its splendor, from Oregon to Mexico, with snow-capped mountains, national parks, redwood forests, a glorious coastline, orchards and miniature cities basking in the sun. It was made of plaster, wire, paint, and bits of rock and sand. In the summer of 1924, Scientific American magazine said it was the largest map in the world.

It has not been seen in public for 50 years. For map fans, it is the saddest of sad stories: The map was damaged in the mid-1950s during a remodeling project at the Ferry Building and cut up into sections and put into storage in 1960.


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